A trite and tired phrase, but compellingly true. When it comes to food, nothing beats effective presentation.
As an example, let’s say you enter a reception room that has two serving tables. One is set with small platters displaying petite finger sandwiches of cucumber, mayonnaise and watercress, with a few olive-stuffed endive spears carefully laid about for variety. Across the room is another serving table. This one is so laden with pizza-sized platters of ham, turkey and roast beef slices alternated with a variety of cheeses and robust salads, that the center of the table almost resembles a sway-backed horse under the weight of its bounty. The majority of guests will be found at this table.
“Run down to the corner deli, get me a ham and Swiss on rye and tell them to hold the mayo.” According to her friend, playwright Lillian Hellman, this phrase was uttered by the iconic writer Dorothy Parker in response to a friend’s request if there was anything he could do for her after the suicide of her estranged husband.
One might think it has something to do with the type, quality or preparation of the food, but not necessarily. Think about the events that inspire someone to consider ordering a deli platter from 700 South Gourmet Deli: wedding and baby showers, funeral repasts, anniversaries, graduations, birthday parties, Bar/Bas Mitzvahs, baptisms, retirement celebrations, sales meetings, housewarmings, meet-and-greets. Anything that speaks of a significant achievement, life change or milestone can influence this kind of menu choice.
There are three reasons:
- These are all emotional events that often require a ceremony of some kind. Ceremony (or ritual or tradition) requires an observance of solemnity to acknowledge the critical event.
- Ceremonial events, however brief, are poignant, touching, but can also be psychologically draining.
- At their conclusion, the common physiological response is relaxation and… ravenous hunger.
Regardless of how sad or joyous a milestone event is, the universal human response at the conclusion is to: shake it off, embrace others and break bread… with joy and vigor!
What could be more inviting than the following:
- Wagon wheel-sized platters of freshly sliced Angus certified roast beef, oven-roasted succulent turkey, Black Forest Ham and spicy Italian meats.
- A mound of domestic and imported cheeses, artfully arranged and specially designed to accompany the meat offerings.
- Traditional deli salads: pasta, potato, coleslaw, macaroni and cucumber and freshly-cut fruit salads.
- Refreshingly crisp and tangy green salads: garden, Greek and Caesar.
- All of this abundance is finally crowned by the royalty of the deli world: freshly-baked rolls and fragrant rye bread slices.
And on top of that… Your guests can create a sandwich of their hearts desires. Whether it be something on the lighter side, turkey and Swiss, or a towering, Scooby Doo sized Dagwood Sandwich.
Delicatessen is not just a style of food, but a cultural gift bestowed upon us by our ancestors; a contribution we have been fortunate to recognize, absorb, sustain and cultivate as Americans. These substantial foods nourished generations of immigrants and their families through daily life and important celebrations. And so it goes today.
P.S. – Read our Brief History of the Delicatessen.
Delicate tea sandwiches are wonderful for music recitals, but for those major life events that have earned a truly hearty celebration, nothing but real delicatessen platters will measure up to the celebration, significance, and appetites, that will result.