I usually understand most of Weird Al's references, but this one baffles me.

What's wrong with eating pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise?

(For background, I am Christian and I've read the Old Testament. I understand the idea that certain foods are kosher and certain ones aren't, but that's where my knowledge of Judaism ends. Please assume that I have little to no background knowledge.)


the question is more cultural than religious. The notion of mayo and white bread plays to the stereotype of the WASPish cuisine as opposed to the traditional eastern-european influenced foods which would have one expect traditional deli fare of pastrami on rye with mustard and maybe a pickle. the issue of dietary law is not at play here.

  • 1
    This is one of those questions where, after you learn the answer, you wonder why you didn't think of it yourself. Thanks. – Steve V. Nov 8 '12 at 2:07

If it is Kosher pastrami and Kosher bread and Kosher mayonnaise there is nothing wrong. It is 100% permissible for one who keeps Kosher to eat.

  • ...and (assuming the pastrami is real meat) the bread and mayonnaise have no dairy products in them nor were cooked in vessels that had recently cooked dairy products in them. – Double AA Nov 7 '12 at 17:35
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    Technically true, but as noted in Dan's answer, the driving factor in the question is a cultural stereotype, not a halachic problem. – Monica Cellio Dec 12 '12 at 18:16

This was in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" where the WASPy Diane Keaton character orders it in a New York kosher deli.

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    That may be why Mr. Al chose to reference that specific dish. – Double AA Oct 7 '13 at 2:00
  • There is a second Woody Allen reference in Crimes and Misdemeanors. Allen's character converts from Judaism to Catholicism (long story). There's a scene shortly after where he comes home from tyhe store and unpacks from his bag a rosary, a crucifix, a loaf of white bread and a jar of mayonnaise. The camera deliberately plays on these last two items. – user3447 Oct 31 '13 at 22:21

There's nothing inherently wrong with it, you just end up looking like an uncultured boor by doing it. It would be akin to ordering a prime, dry-aged steak at Peter Luger's well-done and then smothering it in ketchup or A1 sauce or complaining that your pasta is al dente and you prefer it cooked down to a mushy paste.

It's just not done.

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protected by msh210 Nov 3 '16 at 0:33

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