the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

"sendvitsh" is the Yiddish word for sandwich; "zoyere ugerke" is the word for pickle; "zayern" means to pickle.

conrned beef sandwichA new TV series, "Family Pickle" is a reality show appearing on RLTV. It follows husband-and-wife team, Sandy and Marian Levine, as they run the cured-meat mecca, "The Carnegie Deli." Yes, they're peddling pickles and slinging sandwiches. They're also dealing with two "dervaksener" (adult) children who challenge their choices...and can't be fired.

"Family Pickle" should be addictive TV programming, as we watch the first family of the Carnegie Deli try to keep a "traditshye" (tradition) alive. You'll see love, "gelekhter" (laughter), and "tuml" (noise).

According to the 1967 book, "The New York Spy," edited by Alan Rinzler, "Every New Yorker is convinced that HE knows where to find the BEST OF WHATEVER HE CRAVES AT THE MOMENT. He insists that, while the only place to go for pastrami on rye is the Stage Delicatessen, the cheesecake at the Sixth Avenue Deli is far superior, but the best matzoh-ball soup is certainly at the Carnegie Deli...and the Carnegie Deli is the place to go if the Stage is packed (which it always is) or if you want to talk without seven people overhearing."

Michael Wex ("Just Say Nu") writes, "Contrary to popular belief, Yiddish speakers aren't obsessed with food; they're obsessed with talking about food, especially what's wrong with it: it's the memory of food that attracts them."

So, how much do you know about the Carnegie Deli?

The Carnegie Deli:
. was established in 1937.

. Sandy Levine's business card says he's an "MBD"--married boss' daughter.

. Milton Parker, co-owner of the Carnegie
Deli, had a business card which read: Milton Parker, CPM. The initials stood for "corned beef and pastrami maven." (He passed away in 2009.)

. was a favorite hangout of one-liner king, Henny Youngman..

. was immortalized in comedian Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song in the mid-1990s. "Guess who eats together at the Carnegy Deli Bowzer from Shanana, and Arthur Fonzerrelli."

. was home to TV writers from Brooklyn and the Bronx--Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. They met and joked around at the Carnegie Deli, with Jackie Mason, and Freddie Roman. Mel Brooks said, "Deli food keeps the brain cooking... Delis are magnets for Jews, and Jews, in order to survive emotionally, have developed humor."

. received publicity after Woody Allen used the Carnegie Deli in the film, "Broadway Danny Rose."

. hosted a PIckle Eating Contest on May 13, 2011. Contestants attempted to consume 5 pounds of Carnegie sour pickles in only five minutes.

. was mentioned In 1985, The New York Times Magazine's cover, "The World of New York - 101 Reasons Why New York is Terrific." One of the reasons: The corned beef sandwich at the Carnegie Deli. "The Gibraltar" sandwich. "If you're feeding a family of four, one of these will do nicely."
. offers the Jerry Seinfeld--a peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon concoction.
. offers the Jerry Springer sandwich, consisting of "pastrami, tongue, baloney, Swiss Cheese and Russian dressing. The sandwich was created to "yoyvin" (celebrate) the 3,000 episode of Springer's TV show.

. honored comedian, Judy Gold, with a sandwich in her name: "Gold E. Lox"--a bagel.

. staff, call a pastrami sandwich a "pistol."

. managed to stay open and serve food all "ovnt" (evening) long during New York's blackout of August 2003.

. [According to Harry Gluckman] the Carnegie Deli was a place where you would often not only encounter, but frequently share a table with such people as Woody Allen or other stars of film or stage. "The waiters at Carnegie were also almost stage-like characters, who contributed to the setting of the scene for your meals, and willingly made their recommendations for what you should eat that would be "much better than what you were about to order!" They would also be quick to correct you if you ordered the wrong kind of drink to go with your order, and generally served a Cream soda to go with the pastrami or corned beef in place of whatever drink you might have (mistakenly!) ordered. "You think I don't know what you really wanted?" was their reply when you questioned the change in your order."

. charges $19.95 for the LeBron pastrami, corned beef, brisket, and turkey sandwich. They use American cheese, instead of Swiss, because he's an American-born player.
(New York Magazine, May 17, 2010)

. The Matthew Broderick sandwich consists of Salami, Bologna, and Swiss cheese; the Barbra Streisand: Chopped Liver, Hard Boiled Egg, Lettuce, and Tomato; the Jay Leno, Chicken Salad, Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato.

. Harry Glickman wrote in an e-mail (2002), "I was at Ratner's a number of times back in the 1970s and early 80s, but quite frankly, I much preferred The Carnegie Deli when in Nu Yohk!"

. David Sax ("Save The Deli") wrote, "On my first visit to Manhattan at sixteen, my parents whisked me directly to the Carnegie Deli. We could have eaten anywhere, but they wanted to take me someplace special."

. was mentioned on Oct. 18, 2004. Gail Cohen wrote the following letter to The New York Times: Dear Diary:
Several years ago, my husband and I were visiting New York and having a pre- theater dinner at the Carnegie Deli. As often happens there, we got into a con- versation with the couple sharing our table. They were visiting from the Midwest. We asked them if they were seeing any Broadway shows during their stay.

They looked at each other, then back at us, and slowly replied, "It's kind of a funny story."

They told us that before they had left their home, they had bought tickets for "Les Miserables" from their local travel agent. But the previous night when they tried to enter the theater, they were asked to step to the side. After everyone else had entered, the manager was brought over. He stared at their tickets for a long time. The couple asked: "Is everything O.K.? Are these tickets for tonight?"

"Well," he replied, "I have good news and bad news for you. The tickets are for tonight. But they are for the performance in London."

Aviva Presby defines "dishpan" as a negative review.

. was reviewed in the Zagat Survey, 1997, New York Restaurants: Carnegie Deli 854 Seventh Ave. (55th St.)

"A tourist trap you won't mind getting trapped in"; this "epic deli" has it all-- theatrically "rude waiters", "Fred Flintstone-size sandwiches" and a "critic-proof rep as the "quintessential NY" deli.

. was reviewed in the Zagat Survey, 1998, New York Restaurants:

"Loud, crowded and expensive" but "it's NY" so you gotta "love it"; expect Jurassic-sized sandwiches," "barracks- style dining," and "jaded," "gruff" staff directing lines of tourists and deli-crazed locals.

. was mentioned [in 2009] by David Sax. He demonstrated his encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish delis, by naming 30 of them in just one "minut" (minute), a new universal record. The delis named: Liebman's, Loeser's, Lansky's, Fine and Shapiro, Zabar's, Artie's, CARNEGIE, Stage, Katz's, Second Avenue Deli, Ben's, Sarge's, Gottlieb's, Coleman's, Center Street, Schwartz's, Main, Smoked Meat Pete, Snowdon Deli, Nate 'n Al's... (Note: Marjorie's favorite name for a deli? "Zaftig's--set on Harvard Street in the Brookline, MA, neighborhood.)
THE CARNEGIE DELI discusses the profit margin:
Sandy Levine said, "I love to sell soup and eggs" [as a table of four ordered bowls of matzo ball soup at $7.50 each]. But customers line up outside the Carnegie and the Stage for pastrami, not soup and eggs, and that's the problem..."

According to David Sax, "A whole pastrami will yield between two and six sandwiches, depending on the size of the navel used. On average, your neighborhood New York deli serves an eight-to-ten-ounce sandwich, though spots like Carnegie and the Stage will put a pound or more of meat in theirs."

Marjorie Wolfe will be the guest speaker on a Viking River cruise of Southern France. The cruise begins on Oct. 21, 2012 and ends on Oct. 28, 2012 and goes from Chalon to Avignon. For more information, contact her at You'll sample French cheeses and Burgundian wines; don't expect to be served a pastrami or corned beef sandwich. It won't happen!!


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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