Jewish Congregation of Marco Island serves thousands at Deli Fest

Apparently, when it comes to lunch, everyone is a little Jewish.

Thousands thronged the third annual Jewish Deli Fest, held Sunday at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island. Around noon, the line snaked around inside the sanctuary, with room dividers thrown back to create one large space, and out into the parking lot.

Patrons sat at long tables consuming sandwiches, soups and pastry, or loaded up bags full of white Styrofoam containers to take home. Or both. The delicatessen side of the operation, known as “Bernie’s Deli” after Bernie Seidman, one of the lead cooks, and “because it sounds Jewish,” said Bert Thompson, another of the organizers, is more straightforward, with a limited palette of foods.

You want a sandwich? You have two choices pastrami or corned beef. The bread of choice is rye, and each sandwich, piled high with your meat, is served with a dill pickle, Gulden’s spicy brown mustard, Deep River potato chips (slogan: “Because we give a chip”) and coleslaw. Cheap Jerseys from china The soup selection is equally limited, with a choice between beef barley soup and chicken with matzoh balls.

But sometimes, less is more, and no one seemed inclined to quibble about the selections, or demand a nice chicken salad. They were too busy eating.

Milton and Claire Gottlieb, visiting from New Jersey with their daughter Marla Noby, went with the corned beef, and pronounced it delicious. Robert Snyder also traveled from the north, down from Bonita Springs, and loaded his tray with two of each sandwich, both kinds of soup, and a generous selection of pastries.

And it was with the selection of pastries that the choices became more difficult. The ladies of JCMI made a bewildering variety of desserts, from cheesecake covered with rich fruit toppings, to strudel in a multitude of flavors, all manner of cookies, pound cake, carrot cake, apple cakes, lemon bars, brownies, poppy seed cakes, prune cake, and rugelach, a rolled up pastry dough with fruit filling. Additional offerings at “Bubbie’s Bakery” included mandel bread and babka, stuffed bread filled with prunes, nuts, chocolate and cinnamon sugar. Many of the recipes are 100 years old or more, passed down from Jewish grandmothers, who would be delighted at being honored and remembered through their creations.

Cashiers including City Councilor Larry Sacher and JCMI cantorial soloist Hari Jacobs served as cashiers, collecting cash or happy to take credit cards.

“My husband’s coming,” one patron told Sacher. “Who’s got the money?” he asked, cutting to the chase. Asked if she would be singing, Jacobs demurred, saying “today, I’m a ‘working goil'” in an assumed Brooklyn accent.

For one day, Bernie’s Deli was the most popular eatery on Marco Island, although as a “pop up restaurant,” it had vanished the next day. As patrons left the temple, though, they passed the sign inviting the public to their Monday evening bingo, complete with kosher hot dog included.