Thursday, April 17, 2008

Deli-cious Deli Dining, New York, USA

In what was once the new home for many of Europe's immigrant families arriving to start a new life in the good ole US of A, Lower Eastside Manhattan was a place where the old world met the new in terms of eating habits.

In 1888, a Russian Jewish immigrant family, hence the Yiddish on the menu, established Katz's Delicatessen on the eastern corner of Ludlow and Houston (pronounced How-ston) Streets. It later moved to the western side of Ludlow due to the construction of the New York Subway. In 1946, the deli expanded in order to accommodate the hungry crowds.

Katz's is all about the beef - brisket, corned, pastrami and knoblewurst - and very popular it is, too. Each week, the deli reportedly serves 5000 pounds of corned beef, 2000 pounds of salami and 12000 hot dogs. It's been visited by four US presidents and a host of other celebrities whose snapshots now adorn the walls.

A number of films, including "Donnie Darko", have been shot here but it's probably most famous for the "I'll have what she's having" fake orgasm scene in the 1989 romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally...". The table at which Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal sat is marked with a sign that says "Where Harry met Sally...hope you have what she had!"

Hanging overhead are other signs including one of the restaurant's popular slogans: 'Send a salami to your boy in the army', which was created when the family's three sons were serving in the forces during World War Two and has persisted today with salamis being sent to serving troops in Iraq.

Lunchtimes are noisy and very brisk. Customers queue up in front of the counter to be served and take their tickets to the cash desk on the way out to settle up after ploughing their way through the mountains of meat piled high on their plates. A popular choice is the Rueben, a corned beef, Swiss cheese, Russian salad and sauerkraut combo. It's hard not to eye up your neighbour's choice though and wish you were having what she was having.

Katz's Delicatessen
205 E. Houston Street
New York 10002
Tel: 212-254-2246
Fax: 212-674-3270
Opening hours:
Mon, Tues: 08:00-21:45
Weds, Thurs, Sun: 08:00 - 22:45
Fri, Sat: 08:00 - 02:45