cover image Zabar’s: A Family Story, with Recipes

Zabar’s: A Family Story, with Recipes

Lori Zabar. Schocken, $28 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4339-0

Historian Zabar, granddaughter of the eponymous New York City landmark’s founder, provides a fascinating history of “one of the most famous delicatessens in the world.” Drawing from family archives and interviews, she traces the remarkable story that took off in 1934 with the rental of a counter in Manhattan’s Crystal Pure Food Market dairy store on 80th Street and Broadway. Her fascinating tale follows her grandfather, Louis—who died in 1950, before Zabar was born—from his tumultuous childhood in Czarist Russia, where anti-Semitism ran amok, to his immigration to the U.S. and, later, his decision to sell fish in New York’s Upper West Side, where “German Jews, fleeing Hitler’s Third Reich, could be found having coffee or tea.” Louis’s discriminating taste for smoked salmon resonated with the masses, growing the business into a pop culture icon. After Louis’s death at 49 from lung cancer, the author’s father and uncle took over, and turned Zabar’s into a foodie mecca. It’s a delicious story, however, the organization doesn’t always taste right. Oftentimes the placement of family recipes, included throughout, is puzzling; for example, instructions for making Lilly Zabar’s meat borscht and flanken soup are served directly after a harrowing description of a pogrom in Ostropolia. Nonetheless, the many devoted patrons of this legendary food purveyor will find themselves sated. (May)