Knish nosh

Jewish Studies class dines with the ‘Deli Man’ himself

As Jewish Studies professor Josh Furman put it, “When you teach a class on Jewish food in Houston, why have students read about the topic when they can taste it for themselves?”

Jewish Studies class dines with the 'Deli Man' himself (Photos by Yi Luo)

Photos by Yi Luo

This is how students in his class, which studies Jewish food traditions from the Bible to the present and how what we eat influences who we are, ended up noshing with none other than Ziggy Gruber himself last week at Kenny and Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen.

Gruber is the star of the 2015 documentary film “Deli Man,” a third-generation delicatessen owner and a recognized authority in the world of Eastern European Jewish food and delicatessen fare.

The restaurant’s original location on Post Oak Boulevard is known for its massive menu of deli favorites, including the stuffed cabbage, pastrami sandwiches, house-made pickles and Hungarian goulash Rice students enjoyed throughout their evening with Gruber Oct. 24.

Jewish Studies class dines with the 'Deli Man' himself (Photos by Yi Luo)
During dinner, Furman said, “Gruber dished on such topics ranging from the past and future of the deli, the challenges of today’s restaurant business and the history of Ashkenazi Jewish food.”

Furman’s students had plenty of follow-up questions, he said, “querying Ziggy about the ways in which Jewish deli menus have changed in the 21st century, in an age when some delicatessens are experimenting with so-called ‘fusion cuisine’ and healthier options in an effort to stay relevant to today’s generation of diners.”

“It was a delicious and informative evening, one that this group of Rice students will never forget,” Furman said.

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.