Tod wrote a bit about…pickles. And immigration. But mostly about pickles. All in the latest issue of Palm Springs Life Magazine.
If you grew up in Palm Springs, you grew up in Jewish delis. The Gaiety. Buddy’s. Marvin’s. Nate’s. Sherman’s. There were upwards of a dozen of them valley-wide back in the 1970s and early ’80s. Only Sherman’s is still in business, the others are long gone, replaced by restaurants with ironic names, serving food that is best described as “fusion,” which is just a fancy way of saying no one could make a decision.
But these delis. You know them.
You’d walk in and there’d be a gruff man or woman standing there, slightly annoyed, sipping coffee and smoking a cigarette out of the same hand, holding a menu that looked like the Tables of the Law — but with more choices and arguably more sins. I’d be there with one of my two grandfathers, Cy or David. Poppa Cy would shake the host’s hand, pat him on the back, and then give him hell. This was something my grandfather did. He’d made a fortune in the furniture business in the Pacific Northwest and liked to come down to Palm Springs and tell other people how to do their business. We’d sit down and first thing, we’d get a plate of pickles and sauerkraut, and my grandfather would snap a pickle in half and we’d share it.
If the pickle bent like an old, damp twig, he’d stand up, wave the waitress over, tell her that he didn’t want any of these phony pickles and to bring him some fresh ones. Then he’d smile at me. It was a show. Cy was a contrarian. The pickles would never be fresh enough.