6: Menu, Carnegie Delicatessen and Restaurant in New York, 1985.
The Carnegie Deli opened in 1937 in midtown Manhattan across the street from the concert venue Carnegie Hall. The restaurant’s opening took place, at a time when American Jewish delis were being established in great abundance all over the United States. Eastern European Jews built upon Central and Eastern European food traditions, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in developing the uniquely American creation of the Jewish deli. The Carnegie Deli was known for its oversized portions and the celebrities who frequented it, until it closed in 2016.
On this menu, three variations of matzo ball soup are offered as everyday dishes, not restricted to Passover. They appear in the second column of this menu, under “Soups.” For less than a dollar, one could get a simple chicken consommé with rice, kasha, noodles, or matzo balls. The more elaborate variations — with all the fixings — appear in their own special curlicue-bordered boxes. These are: “Boiled Beef Flanken in the Pot with Matzo Ball, Noodles, Consomme and Garden Vegetable, $2.35” and “Chicken in Pot with Matzo Ball, Noodles, Consomme and Jardiniere Vegetables, $2.30.” The other soups on offer are “Puree of Tomato Soup with Rice” and “Cold Borscht with Boiled Potato and Heavy Sour Cream.”
Suggested Activity: Ask your students: what are some things that you notice about this menu that might tell you something about the people who created it, the people who ordered from it, and the era in which they lived? What, if anything, about this menu strikes you as Jewish? Note that the Carnegie Deli was not a kosher establishment (see "Hot Virginia Ham Sandwich," among other items), though for some people it was an iconic Jewish landmark. Ask your students what might have made this deli a Jewish space, if it was one. What other spaces do they think of as Jewish, and what makes them so? Would matzo ball soup on the menu make any restaurant a Jewish restaurant?
Source: Carnegie Delicatessen and Restaurant, Menu (New York: 1985), digitized by the New York Public Library, <http://menus.nypl.org/menu_pages/53157/explore>, accessed March 1, 2018.