David Sax is a young food writer in Toronto who has dedicated himself to saving the Jewish deli. He's very passionate and zealous on this subject, so I wasn't surprised that yesterday he sent me a splendid link to his post about a story I somehow missed.
The New York Daily News reported that the New York City Department of Health temporarily shut down Ben's Best, one of the best remaining Jewish delis in the city, for health-related crimes related to hanging salamis and combination sandwiches. You really should click through to David's post, but in case you don't, here's Mr. Sax in mid-season missionary form.
So let me get this straight… the large fast food conglomerate of KFC (AKA the Dirty Bird) and Taco Bell (AKA the Dirty) have rats running around in their stores so the health department closes down a kosher deli because they have salamis hanging. Italian delis have salamis hanging on Arthur Ave. Chinese restaurants on Mott have ducks and stingrays hanging. Preserved meats can hang because they are PRESERVED! All the salt which makes kosher salami so delicious is what keeps it from spoiling. Pickled foods were specifically designed to endure the stress and strain of hanging in a window.
As for slicing meat on a machine, were delis to clean the blade after each use, we’d never get served. They clean it regularly, but if you want a combination sandwich, what is the problem? Cross contamination is an issue if raw chicken is used on a cutting board, but one type of pickled beef and another type of pickled beef mixing is like the porterhouse cooking on the same grill as the ribeye at Peter Luger’s. What ever happened to buyer beware? The worst part about this is that Ben’s Best will suffer greatly from reputation, while KFC/Taco Bell will just open up shop elsewhere, continuing to serve filth day in and day out, regardless of how clean the location is. It is time health department authorities wisened up and respected the traditions of food preparation. I don’t know anyone who has gotten sick from a salami before. The sterilized, chemical laden food at the fast food joints is so much worse for you than anything that can be found at a delicatssen. It’s time we stood up for our food heritage. Before long they’ll be forcing us to microwave tongues and boil pickles…in the name of public safety.
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