My old friend Dara Horn has a great column in the WSJ. She writes,
Americans crave authenticity, culinary and otherwise. But most of what we consider authentic is just an earlier generation’s novelty. The Jewish delicatessen is a case in point. While cured meats are a European specialty, Mr. Sax points out that most Jews in Eastern Europe were too poor to afford red meat; pastrami got its start as a way of curing fatty poultry. Sandwiches on rye, equally alien, were an accommodation for the quick meals required for the New World’s factory work.
This only makes me love pastrami even more. I love what tastes good. It’s so pretentious to worry all the time about what’s authentic.