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Warsaw, Poland, Is Home To The Annual Pastrami Festival (+26 More Fun Facts)

Pastrami lovers across the country look forward to their favorite sandwich on January 14th as they recognize National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day.

  • A popular delicatessen meat, pastrami is usually made from beef. Others make their pastrami sandwich with pork, mutton or turkey. Before refrigeration, butchers originally created pastrami as a way to preserve meat.
  • A wave of Romanian Jewish immigration introduced pastrami (pronounced pastróme), a Romanian specialty, in the second half of the 19th century.
  • Early English references used the spelling “pastrama” before the modified “pastrami” spelling was used.
  • New York kosher butcher, Sussman Volk earns credit for producing the first pastrami sandwich in 1887. He claimed to have gotten the recipe from a Romanian friend in exchange for storing his luggage. Due to the popularity of his sandwich, Volk converted his butcher shop into a restaurant to sell pastrami sandwiches.
  • When served, the deli typically slices the pastrami and places it between two slices of rye bread.
  • When pastrami and coleslaw combine, it’s called a Rachel sandwich. Similar to a Reuben which is made with corned beef and sauerkraut.
  • In Los Angeles, they serve the classic pastrami sandwich with hot pastrami right out of the steamer. They slice it very thin and wet from the brine then layered on double-baked Jewish-style rye bread. It is traditionally accompanied by yellow mustard and pickles.
  • In Salt Lake City, in the early 1960s, Greek immigrants introduced a hamburger topped with pastrami and a special sauce. This pastrami burger remains a staple of local burger chains in Utah.
  • Turkey pastrami is made by processing turkey breast (pale pink) or thigh (dark pink) in a fashion similar to red meat pastrami, simulating the corresponding red meat deli product.
  • Pastrami is a technology for preserving meat that our ancestors used before refrigerators.
  • To make pastrami, you start by making corned beef.
  • By smoking corned beef, you turn it into pastrami! Smoking adds flavor to the meat.
  • Katz’s deli is the oldest surviving New York deli and famous for its stuffed pastrami sandwiches.
  • One of the most famous movie scenes in history featured pastrami, as Billy Crystal enjoyed a pastrami sandwich during the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene which was shot at Katz’s Deli in New York (though she was having a turkey sandwich.) Crystal says he kept enjoying the pastrami between takes during filming
  • The star of this historic deli is their Pastrami on Rye sandwich! Katz’s Deli literally goes through 15,000 pounds of pastrami each week
  • The Dartells in 1962 recorded a hit song called Hot Pastrami.  It peaked at #11 on the U.S. pop charts in 1963.
  • In 1963, Joey Dee and the Starlighters released a song Hot Pastrami with Mashed Potatoes.
  • The pastrami sandwich is a central character in the recent documentary Deli Man.
  • In New York the deli business isn’t for the faint of heart.  The show Food Wars dedicated an episode to New York Pastrami Wars.
  •  “There could be no picture making without pastrami,” the director and pastrami fan Orson Welles once declared.
  • Warsaw, Poland is home to an annual pastrami festival each June where pastrami is served in traditional and novel ways, like pastrami with hummus and asparagus and seasonal pastrami salad with asparagus and strawberries.
  • Jewish food festivals nationwide from Savannah to San Diego showcase New York style pastrami.
  • In a fusion of Asian and deli cuisine, the Brooklyn Wok Shop in Brooklyn, New York, serves pastrami dumplings.
  • Similarly, popular San Francisco and New York restaurant Mission Chinese Food offers a Kung Pao Pastrami which is one of its most popular dishes.
  • Empellon Tacqueria in New York serves Pastrami Tacos.
  •  Shopshin’s serves pastrami reuben tater tots.
  • Smoked & Stacked DC features pastrami prominently on its menu, even at breakfast. Restaurant goers can enjoy the New Yorker, a breakfast sandwich of pastrami, comte cheese, sweet and spicy pepper jelly and an egg on a soft milk-bread bun.


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