Pastrami—the king of Gotham’s deli meats—is quintessential New York. Originally a wind-dried beef, it came about in the prerefrigeration era, when salting was used as a preservation technique. When it arrived in town with Romanian Jews in the late 1800s, it went through what many émigrés did: a little reinvention. Smoking and steaming were folded into the process, and soon delicatessen
owners were stuffing the meat between slices of rye, creating the hefty lunchtime classic we know today. In the past few years, the deli meat has played muse for inventive chefs like Danny Bowien
and Wylie Dufresne
, who have popped off reimaginings in rapid fire. We track the evolution of this New York original as it breaks out of the “on rye” mold.