The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., Dec. 6, 2013
by Nick Zukin and Michael C. Zusman
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 272 pp., $27.99
For those lucky enough to grow up in a city with Jewish delicatessens, the memories of the fabulous sandwiches, bagels, preserved meats, and smoked fish readily available within are compelling. With the new crop of artisan cooks and chefs who are rediscovering the old ways, a few around the country have dedicated themselves to Jewish delicatessen cuisine. These artisan delicatessens in San Francisco, Toronto, New York, Seattle, and Portland have lines as long as our own Franklin Barbecue, and authors Zukin and Zusman have made it their business to chronicle this fascinating culinary resurgence.
In addition to giving an overview of America's original delis, which began popping up in the 19th century, Zukin and Zusman write about the artisan delicatessens of today and share their recipes for the home cook. Recipes for matzo ball soup, Russian dressing, kreplach, stuffed cabbage, blintzes, latkes, chopped chicken liver, knishes, four different styles of borscht, four different styles of chicken salad, egg salad, chopped salad, whitefish salad, and pickled herring in cream sauce are all given in their original, handmade glory. But this book doesn't evade the more advanced stuff; you will also find recipes for corning beef; smoking pastrami, kippers, and lox; and baking pumpernickel bread, challah, babka, sourdough, pretzels, rugelach, and of course, bagels. For cities like ours that currently lack an artisanal Jewish delicatessen, this book is a priceless resource.