Sunday, 10 May 2015

Deli Man - Where did they all go?

 I spent an enjoyable couple of hours at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival on a sunday afternoon on Mothers Day.  I went to see DELI MAN at the ROM in Toronto.  This film was enjoyable for so many reasons.  The main subject of the film was a guy named Ziggy who has owner a Delicatessen in Austin, Texas for the past 15 years.  An unlikely place for a Jewish New Yorker to set up shop but as it turns out the perfect place for him to be.  This Deli Man has a heart as big as his stature and his smoked meats.  He has given his life to making his Deli a successful venture where it's all about feeding his community and building his deli family.

The film follows Ziggy's journey mostly through winning a Chicken soup contest and finally getting married to the right person for the right reasons.  He is a very charismatic person and it all goes into his food which has brought the best of Deli food to Texas.   Also seen in the film are Deli Men from all over the U.S. and Canada, including the most famous Delis like Katz's Deli, Carnegie Deli, 2nd Ave Deli and Toronto's own Caplansky's and Yitz'.  Once thing all of the Deli Men agree on is the fact that they put in their whole life into their restaurants and they would probably all do it again if given the chance.
Zane Caplansky jokingly says "you have to be Insane to go into the Deli business".

The film was full of historic photos and explanation of the Jewish delis provided by David Sax.
The couple sitting behind me laughed out loud so loud it filled the theatre through most of the film.  The characters are charming and there is a lot of Food Porn with the abundant deli dishes.
I really appreciated the film for it's heart and the focus on the men that keep the old school deli's alive.  This kind of restaurant is almost becoming extinct.   There use to be a couple thousand deli's in the U.S. and now there are probably under a couple hundred.

In Toronto there are probably less than a dozen scattered around the city but mostly in the Bathurst St. area where there are a large concentration of Jewish residents still.

A lot of the traditions of how the deli food is made is still done the same way today, although there a are a couple of guys in San Francisco who are trying to modernize traditional deli food and put their spin on things while still retaining the way it was done for years.

 After the film Toronto Jewish Film Festival director Helen Zuckerberg introduced the films director Erik Greenberg and also Zane Caplansky and David Sax for a Q&A.  Most of the people asked questions about restaurants in Toronto though.

The best part though was that Caplansky provided smoked meet on bread and pickled in the lobby of the theatre after the screening.

I have been to many film festivals in Toronto and this is a practice unique to the Toronto Jewish Film Festival.  They are becoming known for the food they sometimes have provided for people attending screenings or standing in lines.   The film will have a limited release so I suggest you go see it if it's in your area and plan to go to a Deli for some smoked meat after the screening.  You will be hungry.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Sugar Coated at Hot Docs

My third food documentary that I saw at Hot Docs last night was called SUGAR COATED

SUGAR COATED is a film by Michele Hozer about the rise in consumption of Sugar and the related health care consequences since the 1970's.

Cristin Kearns a Denver dentist is fed up with the increase in cavities that she sees in her patients and starts to embark on a bit of research as to why it's happening.  She stumbles upon a goldmine of documents from an abandoned factory called Great West Sugar Company that was closed in 1976.  What she uncovers is a PR plan similar to the way they promoted smoking in the 70's.  A plan to fight anyone that said that sugar consumption was toxic or bad for your health.  They made sure that everyone said that in moderation it was a healthy part of life.  The responsibility of sugar consumption was placed on the consumer and that sugar was safe to use.  There was an increase in sugar substitutes when women were concerned with their weights and this PR machine set out to shut them down so that regular sugar consumption would increase.  

Sugar consumption has increased 100% in the past 20 years.  You have to wonder why that is the case.  

Dr. Robert Lustig a pediatric endocrinologist also appears in the film and was at the screening for the Q&A.  He sees the daily increase in the obesity of his patients and the earlier development of type 2 diabetes.  He blames the marketing of sugar to kids as one of the causes.  Everyday kids are bombarded with products that are overloaded in sugar.  Parents don't even know how much sugar they are consuming. 

Sugar is a part of so many things in our lives, Birthdays, Halloween, Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas and all kinds of other celebrations.  It's a reward for a hard day or a way to comfort someone when they are down.  Sugar acts like a drug in the brain making it very addictive and the more you eat the more you want.  But they will tell you that it's healthy and non addictive.  So why do 1 in 11 people now have diabetes when years ago it was 1 in 42?

The film provides a lot of scientific expertise and facts and uncovers the cover up of the sugar industry.  It's full of sugar porn too so you will either give up sugar or run out and get some right after.  But it will wake you up to how much sugar is consumed in our current day.

Beware of those packaged products and drinks that claim to be healthy.....