A Sandwich Without the Wait
I can remember the very first time I stood behind the counter at Florence Finkelsztajn’s Jewish delicatessen/bakery/pastry shop. I was decades younger than the rest of the customers, and it seemed to me that they were all ordering the same thing. Going back over 10 years now, it’s a vague image of a brioche-like cake that I described in a journal as resembling a chef’s hat. I followed the crowd, and in my best French, asked for a slice and ended up wanting to eat an entire loaf; it was so light and airy, and dotted with chocolate. I was hooked.
I’ve been going back to Florence’s bright and impeccably organized shop every since. Rue des Rosiers, the small yet lively street in the Marais, Paris’ Jewish neighborhood, has certainly evolved over the years, in my opinion losing authenticity and keeping up way too much with the trends and fashion. It still has its colorful assortment of felafel stands, boutiques with Jewish paraphernalia and bookstores, but high-end fashion designers and jewelry stores have also made this street their home. That said, whenever I sit on the terrace in front of the blue mosaic storefront, on the corner looking on to Rue des Rosiers, with piles of fresh challah behind me, stacks of strudels and babkes neatly in rows, for me, nothing has changed. In fact, yes, I do feel that the ladies behind the counter have gotten much more friendly over the years!
The outside of the shop with mosaics from the 1930’s says, “Your Caterer for Yiddish Gastronomy from Central Europe and Russia.” Inside the narrow space is a wonderful array of sweet and savory foods, ranging from borscht, blini, chopped liver, and gefilte fish, to cheesecake, apple strudel with raisins and cinnamon, crispy flatbreads called pletzel, cakes made with poppy seeds, dried fruits and nuts, and golden breads baked on the premises.
One item you can’t miss is their signature Super Sandwich, the “Big-Pletzel,” which always has a place right up front, on top of the counter, impossible to miss as you enter the deli. You have your choice of corned beef, pastrami or turkey, which gets layered with eggplant caviar, red pepper caviar, cucumbers, pickles and fresh tomato slices, all on one of their soft homemade onion and poppy seed rolls. If you ask nicely, the women behind the counter will be more than happy to slice it in quarters and warm it up for you, which I do recommend. They’ve gotten friendlier, or I’ve gotten less intimidated! It’s 7.90 Euros for this satisfying lunch, but don’t forget to save some change and some room in your belly for dessert.
While you savor your sandwich and strudel at their outdoor tables, you’ll have a perfect view of the line of about 50 people waiting for felafel at the ever popular L’As du Fallafel. Good things come to those who don’t have to wait too, you know!
24 rue des Écouffes
75004 Paris France