Flash Movie Review: Deli Man
When you first walked into the place you were hit with a curious aroma of cured meats, baked goods and chicken soup. High above on the back wall behind the massive glass counter hung a variety sausages and salamis, each one hanging like cocoons in different stages of undress. Inside the glass counter were bowls and pans overflowing with such a span of foods you could spend weeks until you had tasted each one. My favorite part was the area off to the side that had bins filled with light and dark colored breads. I remembered how I would stand in line and be offered the end piece from a loaf of bread from one of the employees behind the counter, feeling lucky beyond belief. Just beyond this area was a long counter with stools set in front of it. Here is where you would mostly see men sitting early in the morning eating breakfast. They would be seated with a cup of steaming coffee placed in front of them. All of the men would be folding their tall newspapers into the smallest squares like origami masters, as they waited for their meal. After the counter the space opened up into a large dining room filled with booths and tables that waitresses navigated like errant pinballs. I loved this place because of the food; however, what really made it special for me was the lure the place had on my relatives. They would travel from the suburbs to the city to meet us for a meal. Life at a delicatessen was like being in a whole different world, filled with family recipes, traditions and kinship. THIS documentary could easily make a person hungry. The stars of this film were the few remaining delicatessens left in the United States. At one time there were thousands of them across the country; sadly their numbers have dwindled down to a handful. Part history and part personal stories, some of the individuals interviewed were comedian Jerry Stiller (Hairspray, Seinfeld-TV), newscaster Larry King (Larry King Live-TV) and deli owner Ziggy Gruber of Kenny & Ziggy’s deli in Houston, Texas. I was fascinated more by the historical aspects of the story than listening to the deli owners talk about their personal lives. Granted it was somewhat interesting from a sociological stance, but I found them becoming similar and a bit boring. Possibly it may have been caused by the amount of places visited like Katz’s and 2nd Avenue Deli. I am not sure this film will interest a lot of people; it may be more of a niche movie. If you have never been to a deli, you might find the food portions obscene. Besides, the food was not meant to be fancy or trendy; it was simply good solid comfort food that could easily trigger a fond memory.