Decline of the Jewish Deli

Siegelmania

By Stanley Siegelman

Published April 19, 2010.

NEWS ITEM: Jewish delis are going out of business nationwide. New York City, which boasted about 5,000 such businesses in the early 1950s, now has approximately two dozen.


We face a cause that’s almost lost,
A gastronomic holocaust!
The deli, home of gourmandise,
Is tottering, upon its knees!
This sanctum of the epicure
No longer is a place secure!

Pastrami lovers everywhere
Are in the throes of deep despair.
They raise their voice in angst and fear
That deli-stores might disappear.

In delis, waiters lie in wait,
Prepared to argue and debate.
’Tis there, midst grease, do the obese
Fall prey to hardened arteries.
No outside activists intrude
In serving Jewish comfort-food.

As chicken soup the patron slurps,
And punctuates the deed with burps,
He contemplates a future dim:
If delis croak, who’ll care for him?

Who’ll serve him kishke, chicken neck,
And all that other kosher dreck?
Some day there could be hell to pay
If he can’t quaff Doc Brown’s Cel-Ray!

Those pickles let the man devour
Before the scene turns truly sour!
Bicarb-of-soda is routine,
A standby of the whole cuisine!

Where do the cognoscenti sup
When delis die, go belly up?
While asking questions such as these,
Let’s eat — and hold the mustard, please!



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