A Museum Exhibit Celebrating The Jewish Deli Is Coming To NYC

The traveling museum exhibition "'I'll Have What She's Having': The Jewish Deli" is a reminder of the dwindling Jewish delis in New York City, according to The New York Times. Especially because these neighborhood hot spots and their accompanying appetizing shops became more than just grocers over time. According to Haaretz, the greatest casualty of diminishing Jewish delis was losing a place for Jewish communities to gather together.

During their heyday (the 1930s), there were around 3,000 Jewish delis in New York City alone. Untapped New York says that many delis closed in the post-war landscape and continued to decline into the 1970s and 80s. Some of the most famous have held out though, including the famed Katz's Delicatessen, which was immortalized in the "When Harry Met Sally" scene that gave the exhibit its name, per Time.

If you want to check out the exhibit, The New-York Historical Society will be hosting it for five months starting on November 11.

The Jewish deli's rich history

Despite the frequent association of New York City with Jewish delicatessens, this exhibit is actually a product of the West Coast, per The New York Times. The exhibit was originally created and shown by the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Many Jewish people moved to "the city of angels" to work in the growing show business industry, and today the city still hosts the second-largest Jewish population in the country.

While the exhibit is on display at the New-York Historical Society, visitors will be treated to artifacts from the history of Jewish delis. There are signs from landmarks like Pastrami King and Drexler's Deli, waitress' uniforms, and even videos of police breaking up the crowds of food carts that would precede the deli. Sadly, no food is allowed at the exhibit space, and dishes like pastrami on rye and matzo ball soup were recreated using non-food materials. This means there won't be any samples during a visit as well. 

While the deli is a creation of New York City that spread to the rest of the country, the exhibit aims to depict the deli as a uniquely "American tale" (via New York Times). As The World points out, many of the foods most often associated with delis weren't staples of the old country, but developed here as unique delicacies as an increasing amount of Jewish immigrants called America their home.