Every story needs a brave and trustworthy guide, and Deli Man’s is the effusive and charming Ziggy Gruber, a third-generation delicatessen man - his uncle and great-uncle owned Berger’s in the diamond district, and the Woodrow Deli on Long Island. His grandfather owned the famous Rialto Delicatessen on Broadway, and Ziggy was stuffing cabbages atop of a crate when he was eight. Now he is owner and maven (as well as a Yiddish-speaking French trained chef) of one of the country’s top delis, Kenny and Ziggy’s in Houston – yes, Texas…Shalom y’all. Of course the story of deli isn’t Ziggy’s alone. Deli Man has visited meccas like the Carnegie, Katz’s, 2nd Avenue Deli, Nate ‘n Al, and Canter’s, as well as interviewed some of the great connoisseurs of deli, including Jerry Stiller, Alan Dershowitz, Freddie Klein, Dennis Howard, Jay Parker (Ben’s Best), Fyvush Finkel, and Larry King. - ComingSoon.net
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. . . so much so that it sometimes detracts from a viewer's ability to give thought to food, the ostensible subject of this documentary.
This flick is crammed full of interviewees too numerous to keep straight (without a giant scorecard, at least), but one of them observes in the opening minutes that the Confederacy had more Jewish generals during the American Civil War than the Union Army. In DELI MAN's final minutes, another of the contemporary title characters talks about his annual Seder dinners to commemorate the Jewish People's flight from slavery in Egypt. Between these two passages, I was sensitized to look hard for the presence of African Americans among the deli patrons and workers pictured. Though there was a healthy sprinkling of Hispanic People and Asians mixed among the many Jews and non-Jewish White People, I honestly could not spot a single Black person. DELI MAN leaves me with the impression that because most of the descendants of Jewish slaves in America fought to PRESERVE Black slavery here, most of today's African-Americans won't touch kosher food with a ten-foot pole.