Yesterday, a friend of mine, founder of The New York Minute, alerted me to a video about Len Berk, an 84-year old Jewish lox-slicer at Zabar's. The video (by Martyna Starosta) is part of a wonderfully written article in the online Jewish Daily Forward; its writer: Paul Berger.
Zabar's is a beloved institution on NYC's upper west side. From caviar to chocolate, Mauviel to multiplanes, if you need something for the kitchen, or for the stomach, it can usually be found at Zabar's.
But really, when push comes to shove, Zabar's is all about the lox; smoked salmon, that is, in its myriad styles and tastes. Oh, there's whitefish, sable, herring and even sturgeon. If you look (and listen) hard enough, there's even lobster...just don't tell your kosher grandfather.
I used to slice lox when I was a kid. One of my first jobs was in the deli department (I know, I know - it's appetizing!) of a Long Island supermarket chain, Hills. They would send me around to various stores to fill-in when a store was short-staffed, or when a new store was opening. I really learned about lox in the Five Towns; specifically, the Cedarhurst Hills, which had a real appetizing department, and I was pretty good with a salmon knife...but I'd be no match for Len. Glory Days, baby.
Nostalgia over - so stop kibbitzing, and watch the video from Vimeo and the Jewish Daily Forward, about just what it means to slice lox at Zabar's. And to be the last of a breed.