Save the Deli
After reading this book, piled with analysis on the decline of the fatty, carb-filled joys of Jewish cuisine, you’ll want to step on the treadmill. Surprisingly, the author doesn’t tote the health concerns as the driving force behind the disappearance of Jewish delis throughout the world. David Sax’s explanation is one rooted in history and culture that places as much blame on the Jewish community as it does on the Holocaust for corned beef’s position on the endangered foods list. The Jews’ forced and voluntary need to assimilate into other cultures and a lack of interest in tradition from the community’s younger members all put nails in the gefilte fish coffin. While touring the U.S., Canada and Europe, Sax is brutally honest in his reactions to the Jewish food he encounters—dripping praise of a crisp knish dissolves into a diatribe against a mushy matzo ball. There is plenty of kvetching to go around, but Sax’s optimism and passion give the reader plenty to hope for—and drool over.