A Glossary of Deli Terms
|Eating Deli. In New York it's a cuisine not just a sandwich. Sometimes you went out for Chinese, sometimes Italian,sometimes Deli. A Delicatessen Restaurant.
These are things I grew up with, and at that time there may not have been a great delicatessen outside of N.Y.C., but there were certainly a choice few winners in the city. The Carnegie and the Stage (within a couple blocks of each other) the Second Ave Deli, Wolfs- and for smoked fish, Murray's Sturgeon and Barney Greengrass to name a few.
The aroma in these delicatessens was like your grandmother’s kitchen after she had been preparing food all day for the family on a holiday. The food- well the food was as rich and delicious as grandmother's, only more. You never got a big fat
hot corned beef or pastrami sandwich, made with the most savory delicious meat, anywhere but those delicatessens.
All the food was very fresh. The meats and poultry were roasted, boiled, steamed etc., right there-never shipped in precooked.
This food, this cuisine, was the equivalent of Jewish Soul Food.
All of this is what we are doing here. Don't be bashful-ask for a taste, relax, sit back and enjoy. You want more... we’ve got take out.
What follows is a brief glossary of some of the foods that you will find here and at other traditional Jewish Delicatessens.
|Chopped Liver - A first cousin to paté, but not so hoity-toity. This is so good your grandmother could have made it, but she was busy so Harvey made it.
Egg Cream - A refreshing drink made with milk, syrup and seltzer. It's wonderful and has absolutely nothing to do with eggs or cream.
Phosphate - Leave the milk out, and you still get no eggs or cream.
Blintz - Essentially a pancake or crepe rolled around a filling, most often cheese, and traditionally eaten with a side of sour cream. Not for the diet conscious, but so delicious and versatile that at one table blintzes may be breakfast and at another dessert.
Kasha Varniskes - Kasha is literally buckwheat groats, a slightly nutty coarse grain. Varniskes, pronounced Varnish-Kiss, are bowtie noodles. So what you have here is a hearty starch in a slightly formal setting.
Knish - Pronounced Kuh-Nish, like the dish. Every culture has something like this, whether they call it empanades, perogies, or humbau, they are essentially a pastry stuffed with filling. Potato Knishes are the most common, but the varieties
are endless. This is perfect food for noshing.
Nosh - Eating. Usually this word is associated with snacking or eating between meals. You're hungry and dinner won't be ready for 15 minutes-have a nosh. A delicatessen is a great place to nosh.
Kishka - Or stuffed derma. This is a sausage like blend of meat, flour and spices stuffed into a casing. In the old days it was always an intestine casing, now...If you didn't grow up with this particular or similar item, you probably won't even
want to hear about it. But why not...be brave.
Kugel - Pronounced Koo-gull. Literally a pudding. In our case noodle or potato, baked with cream and cheese, some other ingredients and seasoning-delicious stuff. And conveniently can be used to enhance any meal.
Lox - (Rhymes with fox) Originally a this was a very salty brine cured salmon, but at this point it has become a generic term for cold smoked, Nova style salmon-a milder delicacy that melts in your mouth. Nova once meant only salmon caught near Nova Scotia, but now refers more frequently to the method of preparation. At it's best this is sliced to order from whole sides, contains no preservatives, and costs lots of money.
Matzo Balls - Pronounced Mott-seh. These are dumplings that originally were served with chicken soup only during the Passover holiday, but why not have a holiday food year round? The argument has always been, should they be soft and fluffy or firm like they mean something? Your feedback on this issue will be gratefully ignored. We already know best.
Rugelach - Pronounced Rug-a-la. A wonderful cookie pastry made with a cream cheese, sour cream, and butter dough and filled with assorted goodies. The original had cinnamon and nuts. Eat one, two, or ten. We'll be happy to send them your way.
Pastrami - This should never be the dried lean pepper beef so many pass off as pastrami. Yes, real pastrami is somewhat fatty, but it's also rich, chewy, tangy, peppery and glorious in the mouth. This folks, is what we're all about.
Latkes - Pronounced Lot-keh. Latkes are potato pancakes, crispy on the outside and served with sour cream or applesauce. This is another dish that was originally only served during a holiday, Hanukkah; but is now enjoyed year round.