There is no shame in having a party with catered food and because it is especially difficult cooking a big meal when you’ve been fasting, a deli spread is a great option for Yom Kippur. Providing a deli spread from a good Jewish deli is a treat and can develop into a much loved family tradition. I know some of my fondest memories were going to my grandmother’s house and enjoying the bagels and whipped cream cheese that she would get from Canter’s, the quality of which was unavailable in the burbs at that time.
At this time of year, Jewish delis do a brisk trade in predefined platters but feel free to go “off piste” and customize your own platter. Doing so will minimize the “filler” (who needs 5 whole cut onions on a platter?) and maximize the items your guests will really enjoy.
Corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, smoked turkey and chicken are just the beginning of the list of cold cuts offered at a deli. My family is really only interested in corned beef and pastrami so you can make your choices simpler too if your family is the same. I dislike fish but a fish platter with lox and white fish is also an option for those preferring a traditional non-meat menu. Don’t forget to offer nice mustards too.
Pick up a variety of seeded and non-seeded breads. Interesting breads add a punch to any sandwich and are always beautiful to display.
Delis offer a variety of salads so don’t feel you are beholden to the cole slaw and potato salad if you and your family don’t like them. My husband doesn’t like mayo (he’s weird) so we always have a non-mayo salad option.
If your deli only offers plain-old black olives, go to any good supermarket deli counter and get a mixture of olives. In LA it is not hard to find an olive bar in many supermarkets and you can create your own mixture all for one price. Don’t forget the pickles! Any good deli will offer the choice of old and new pickles. Again, get a mixture. Which one is better is hotly contested…I personally love the old pickle.
The reason delis offer so many dessert breads is because of the meat fare they specialize in. Kosher dessert breads are often pareve and if you haven’t explored the great tradition of Jewish dessert breads you really should. Look for mandelbrot (mandel bread), babke, strudels, coffee cakes, and more.
American Jewish deli food is a cherished part of Jewish-American culture and featuring this cuisine at your party can create a much loved feast as well as a cherished memory.