Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Because it Quacks Like A Duck.....

There’s a new deli in town called The Rye Delicatessen. Its website announces, “This isn’t your grandmother’s delicatessen - but she would love it. Really.” 

Yeah? Well, neither one of my grandmothers woulda set foot in the place.

edible Bialy
My grandpuppy Bialy 
Nestled amongst the fine line of Jewish delicacies like a bialy (not my grand-puppy but that elusive non-bagel heretofore unknown in this town), lox bagel and cream cheese, corned beef and smoked beef (not pastrami) sandwiches, are those ancient classics  the “KNIFE AND FORK REUBEN - Open faced corned beef or smoked meat, rye, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese,” it’s counterpart the RACHEL - Grilled rye, roast turkey, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese,” the “REUBEN BURGER - Smoked meat, Swiss, russian dressing, kraut, toasted bialy,”  and the perennial favorite of all Bubbes “GRILLED BACON EGG ONION AND TOMATO - Challah, burnt onions.”

Granted,  nowhere on the website does it say this is a kosher establishment but on the home page, down at the bottom, the following quote appears:

“Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.” – Milton Berle

What could he possibly say about that challah combo? “Straight to gehenna?”

A review of said new restaurant appeared on a local website, and I gotta tell ya, I was seriously torqued by the review, and subsequently, the reviewer. He waxed rhapsodic about the place as a Jewish delicatessen, and I took exception to that because it’s not kosher. Here’s the link to TCJewfolk’s review of Rye Delicatessen; you can read the article and the “conversation” for yourselves. Usually, I would’ve suggested that his defensive, self-righteous posturing was indicative of a small body part, but in this case, I think it’s his brains, and therein lies the bigger tragedy.

Now, I’ve run on about  marit ayin , (literally ‘appearance of the eye, but really meaning ‘for the sake of appearances’) in the past, and yes, it’s one of my favorite soapboxes.  Just because something looks like a duck and quacks like a duck there’s no guarantee that it can’t be a chicken jerking your chain.

Marit ayin is a highly undervalued, albeit crucially important, commodity. Here we are in the opening salvos of an election cycle and already the photo/video doctors are out in force, twisting images and sentences and expecting the American public to believe whatever their little creative minds invent. Unfortunately the reliable old adage “seeing is believing” is no longer reliably correct. We can no longer trust our eyes to determine whether or not what we see is the truth. And that is certainly the case with our ears. Our technology is now a new tool for propagating lies….and damned lies.

While there is nothing on the Rye Deli website that says it is kosher, there’s nothing that says “kosher style” or “New York style,” both code for letting kosher people know the meat is trefe. It’s easy to be confused unless you really look hard. The political ads are no different.

So I have to ask why. What is the benefit in purposely misleading the public? Is this really just an unintentional stumbling block? Or is there a real desire to be deceitful? Is there a degree of difference between the two, or is there a religious disconnect here?

In the case of the restaurant, they are pretty scrupulous about not saying this place is even remotely kosher; even the pickles are listed as dill, not KOSHER dill, so I have to conclude this deli motif is for the benefit of gentiles looking for an exotic eating experience. I can see where they’re going, but it's still a bit murky and definitely misleading. (Ultimately, my argument was with the critic, not the restaurant…as you already know if you followed the link.)

Not so ambiguous with the campaigns. The recent use of a statement made by the President while running in 2008 has been manipulated by the Romney campaign to make it appear as if President Obama is saying,

"If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.”

when, in fact, what candidate Obama really said was,  

“Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.”

Not only is the quote wrong, it’s misleading in a way that should backfire on Mr. Romney’s campaign which refuses to back down or apologize on misquoting the candidate Obama. What does that tell us about the candidate and the people with whom he surrounds himself? I sure as hell know what it tells me, and I'm not too crazy about the message. 

I don’t know about any of you, gentle readers, but my bullshit detector is already running on overdrive and we haven’t even gotten to Iowa or New Hampshire. How do we tell them to stop?

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Remember: shopping at your local, non-big box stores and markets
is best way to keep your neighborhood alive and thriving. 

Wifely Person's Bonus Tip
Wanna do an easy mitzvah? 
Wish my mother "Happy 89th!" on Thursday.


  1. I wonder if you missed last week's specials at the Rye Deli: shrimp & crab knishes, Hebrew National franks with pork 'n' beans and, my personal favorite, blintzes with lobster sauce ("Cantornese style" as the menu noted -- "this one will make you sing for your supper").

    Which reminds me, WP, a long time ago I was married to a woman who, when asked if we were planning to "keep kosher", would always respond "only outside the house". You would have loved her!!!