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.)


4 Answers 4


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, 2012 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, 2012 at 17:35
  • 3
    Technically true, but as noted in Dan's answer, the driving factor in the question is a cultural stereotype, not a halachic problem. Dec 12, 2012 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.

  • 1
    That may be why Mr. Al chose to reference that specific dish.
    – Double AA
    Oct 7, 2013 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, 2013 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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