A deli-loving crowd gathered at Jimmy & Drew’s 28th Street Delicatessen for “Save the Deli,” the final program of this year’s Festival of Books and Culture. The evening began with. . . what else? a little shmooze and nosh. Crudite and dip, half-sour pickles and homemade hummus with pita and matzoh, just to warm us up for the appetizer. Matzoh ball soup and fresh salads once we sat down. The main courses were served as the hum in the restaurant became the loud din of the deli you grew up loving. . . corned beef sandwiches (cured on site and very lean), chicken in a pot (remarkable!) and vegetarian couscous-stuffed peppers.
Once we were stuffed ourselves, and ready for a little break before dessert, author David Sax took us on a cultural journey of the Food Of Our People. Tracing the rise and fall of the deli back to the destruction of the Second Temple, Sax shared the backstory most of us didn’t know – where the flavors and spices came from and how different groups and culinary traditions melded in the lower East Side to give rise to over 2,000 delis in New York by the 1950s.
But after the Holocaust, there were no more vast waves of immigrants coming to America. The demographic changes conspired with the growth of supermarkets (offering longer-lasting bread and packaged deli meats) to effect a significant change on the deli’s traditional customer base:
For the first half of the twentieth century, deli food was the food of an immigrant people. . . the first generation (in America) eats it everyday. The second generation eats it with their parents, maybe once a week. The third generation eats it maybe once a month. The fourth generation eats it maybe once a year, if that.
Sax is passionate about saving the deli, both for the sake of the food itself (which he clearly loves), and for the cultural space: what it says about a community to have a thriving Jewish deli. It is as much about the food (which is rich in history) as about our immigrant cultural past. “Save The Deli” is getting rave reviews from coast to coast, read a few and sign up for updates on his SaveTheDeli website.
At first surprised to find a Jewish deli in Boulder, Sax has returned to Jimmy & Drew’s several times, and devotes pages to it in his book. “Jimmy” Eggers and Drew Marx prepare meats and fish onsite (smoked, seasoned, cured), using traditional recipes (from Drews’ mom) for favorites ranging from blintzes to chopped liver, sandwiches to soups. They have expanded their hours to include breakfast and Sundays, with specials every night of the week. They give back to the community and are looking for our support. Jimmy noted that 15 of Boulder’s locally-owned restaurants have closed in the last 6 months, and encouraged us all to eat local and tell our friends. Particularly with the holidays coming up, we hope you’ll take the time to try them out (they have carry-out and delivery, as well as catering). Before the evening ended, we enjoyed dessert as well. . .kugel and cheesecake, like butter! To tempt you, check out these photos from Monday night. . .see if you can resist!
Jimmy & Drew’s 28th Street Delicatessen is located at 2855 28th Street, in Tebo Plaza (just south of Valmont). There is ample parking (including underground parking). Open 7:30 am to 9 pm Monday through Friday, and 10:30 to 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Check their website for specials, but most importantly, bring some friends and have a meal.
Boulder Jewish News would like to thank Jimmy & Drew’s for sponsoring our first contest and contributing gift certificate prizes (won by Lisa Trank and Brian Seigal).
What a great article! I relived the evening, the details of which you captured beautifully. I hope that lots of people will give Jimmy and Drew's Deli a chance. Dad and I are going back for the chicken in the pot and the kugel which we had tasted and found really exceptional.