Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Parker Knew Pastrami

If you've spent anytime as a visitor in New York City, one of the must-eat destinations you hear about is the Carnegie Deli, located in the west 50's of Manhattan.

I've eaten lunch there a few times, and I loved both of those meals. Anyway, the memory of those pastrami sandwich lunches was awakened when a friend sent me this recent article from the N.Y. Times:

Milton Parker, who brought long lines and renown to the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan with towering pastrami sandwiches and a voluble partner who kibitzed with common folk and celebrities alike, died in Queens on Friday. He was 90 and lived in Manhattan.

. . . Mr. Parker was primarily the back-room planner who brought taam — a Yiddish word suggesting great flavor and quality — to the pastrami, corned beef, brisket and tongue; the cheesecake and matzo balls; the soups and the pickles that placed the Carnegie, at 55th Street and Seventh Avenue, at or near the top of deli maven lists.

. . . According to, a Web site that celebrates delicatessens nationwide, Mr. Parker’s business card read “Milton Parker, CPM (corned beef and pastrami maven).”
Sure, the patrons at Carnegie Deli are primarily tourists, but that could be said of most any eatery in midtown Manhattan. Besides, their pastrami sandwiches are absolutely huge -- and wonderful.

New Yorkers still debate which deli in midtown is better -- the Carnegie Deli or the Stage Delicatessen, which is located nearby on Seventh Avenue. The two delis have been rivals for years, and the rivalry intensified after a 1979 N.Y. Times article judged Carnegie to be the superior deli. That touched off what newspaper articles referred to as "the Pastrami War."

If only every war were fought with pastrami, this world would be a much happier place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I ate there last summer - food was great! Pastrami piled high on rye bread! / John W.