You can’t package up the meaning of what it is to live and work in NYC. It is too complex and dynamic an experience. But there are some experiences that are so quintessentially New York that they are one of things you must do if you are to say you ‘know’ the soul of this City.
One of them is shopping for smoked fish at Zabar’s. The setting up and prospering of Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway and Eighth St is the story of a Jewish immigrant family starting humbly in the 1920′s by renting a stall in a farmers market and then finally turning it into a specialist food store that has a NYC wide reputation for the quality of what it sells. Its stand out food items are its bagels, cheeses, olives and most especially its smoked fish.
See the video, narrated by Saul Zabar, son of the original head of the clan, Louis Zabar, after whom the store is named. Today only one of the lox cutters at Zabar’s, Len Berk, is Jewish, testament to the ethnic richness of NYC wrought by successive waves of immigration. Mr Berk too is carrying out a family and East European tradition, in this case of fishmongering now transformed into what happens in this New York of stores where he has perfected the art of slicing up smoked fish.
So if you happen to pass by or to shop at Zabar’s reflect on the East European business traditions now translated into this shop in a City which has become what it is today because so many people have come to NYC and bought their culture and skills with them.