Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

By Matthew Yglesias

David Sax has an interesting item in New York Magazine about a Montreal-style cured Jewish deli meat now being brought to Brooklyn. It’s described as “more aggressively peppery than pastrami, and a little hotter thanks to the paprika in the dry rub.” Frustratingly, however, Sax doesn’t actually say what it’s called.

So I went to the website of Montreal’s premier Jewish culinary establishment, Schwartz’s Deli (aka Chez Schwartz Charcuterie Hebraic as per Loi 101) to see what I could see. Well, according to the menu the smoked meat in question is called “smoked meat” with no more elaborate nomenclature on offer. Wikipedia confirms that throughout Montreal the city’s distinctive brand of smoked meat is known simply as “smoked meat.”

This convention would seem to make it difficult to have any kind of reasonable conversation about how the flavor of smoked meat compares to the flavor of, well, other kinds of smoked meat products. But I guess it works well for Canadians.

4 responses to “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

  1. I dunno, “Montreal Smoked Meat,” insofar as it is ubiquitous throughout Montreal, seems like a pretty good name for it. I mean, you’re not going to confuse it with say, Montreal Corned Beef, which does not exist. Moreover, you don’t even find other similarly smoked meats on Montreal deli menus (no Pastrami, etc.). So there’s really no reason for anyone to be confused about smoked meat, nor is there any reason why calling it smoked meat would short-circuit any comparisons with other similar foods.

    To put it another way, what does “Pastrami” mean anyway, other than a smoked meat originating in the Ottoman empire?

    Now when is MY coming to Montreal to eat some delicious, delicious smoked meat (Schwartz’s is great but the Snowdon Deli’s is better)???

  2. smartpeopleiknow

    Everyone knows “smoked meat” is Montreal style smoked meat. At least in Canada. :)

  3. Even in America, fans of smoked meats know that Smoked Meat is the ne plus ultra of Montreal deli foods.

  4. I got to go to Schwartz’s on my honeymoon (in 1997), and it was the best (and first) “smoked meat” I ever had. There were categories: you could have lean, regular,or extra fatty.

    Of course, being Americans who were just starting to become foodies, we chose lean. It was still very good.

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