Pastrami in 2003

New York Times article about the history and current state of the art of pastrami.

The development of pastrami as we know it today happened in America, Ms. Nathan said, first as a way to preserve goose meat and then, when the availability of kosher beef became more widespread in the 19th century, with what butchers call the cow’s plate, also known as the belly or navel. It is found next to the brisket alongside the underside of the animal and is much fattier than brisket. The navel was dry-cured in salt and other spices for weeks, then smoked and, finally, steamed.
These preserved meats were not easy to make in the home. Delicatessens, or stores selling prepared meats, rose up to help fill the need. By the 1930’s, said Joel Denker, author of “The World on a Plate: A Tour Through the History of America’s Ethnic Cuisine” (Westview Press), there were no fewer than 5,000 of them in New York City, most serving home-cured pastrami.


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