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David Sax

By David Sax

I want you to repeat the following out loud: Deli is good for me. Corned beef won’t kill me. I was born to eat blintzes.

Why should the above sound so ridiculous?

Because we are told by “nutritional experts” that knishes are empty carbs; chopped liver is a guilty indulgence; and a pastrami sandwich? Nothing less than a death sentence.

I don’t buy it. For two months, I ate an average of three deli meals a day, every day. I drove over 10,000 miles from Toronto west to Los Angeles, then east to Florida and back north again, eating at delis all along the way for breakfast, lunch, and often dinner.

On a typical day I could find myself eating three different servings of chopped liver, two Reubens, four blintzes, one latke, two kishkes, a platter of pastrami, corned beef and turkey, or an entire side of nova, often at one sitting.

My family worried I’d grow tired of the food, while my friends supposedly took bets on when the heart attack would strike. Thankfully, after close to a hundred delis, neither transpired. Far from killing me, deli only made me stronger. Is there a lesson for the rest of us?

[From “Worry Less, Eat More,” Guilt and Pleasure, Issue 5, Summer 2007]


David Sax is the author of Save the Deli and The Tastemakers.