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There could be no picture making without pastrami.

Orson Welles, filmmaker

There are few things that are more alluring for food lovers than the smell of a hot pastrami sandwich that is winging its way across a restaurant. For those that salivate at the thought, celebrating National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day is a must.

National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day is a celebration of the mouthwatering, edible treat that is the much-loved hot pastrami sandwich. A shining example of culinary beauty, this delicious delicacy is created using thin slices of piping hot pastrami that are served on rye bread, usually topped with melted Swiss cheese slices, a helping of Russian dressing, and a pickle on the side.

What some people might consider to be just a sandwich, other folks recognize this sandwich as the perfect (and only) reason to celebrate on this day. Get ready to enjoy National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day!

History of National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day

A staple must-try dish for those visiting the iconic American city of New York (where the sandwich originated), the hot pastrami sandwich has a rich history, and it has inspired many a chef to experiment with its treasured ingredients. It’s rare for a simple snack to bear such significance and carry such gravitas in the gastronomic world, and this is why National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day came into being.

Pastrami is a very popular meat product, one that seems to have originated in the Jewish communities of Romania. Pastrami comes from the Romanian word ‘pastrama,’ which is a derivative of the word ‘pastra,’ a word indicating that a food has been conserved or preserved.

Usually made from beef, pastrami started as a means of making meat last longer in the days before refrigeration became commonplace. To make pastrami, raw meat is placed in a salty brine and then partly dried before the intense flavor is added using various seasonings, such as mustard, black pepper, coriander, garlic, onion and more. The meat is then smoked and cured before it eventually lands on plates served in front of hungry, but ultimately very happy, customers.

Pastrami shot to fame across the world in the late 1800s as a result of migration. And this sandwich is now a staple ingredient on the menus of trendy cafes, traditional sandwich shops, delicatessens and street food stalls.

The first hot pastrami sandwich of note is believed to have been produced by kosher butcher, Sussman Volk, in 1887. Though Volk was a Lithuanian immigrant who ran his own deli, he had received the recipe from a Romanian friend. The story goes that pastrami became very popular, and it was Volk who then began serving it on rye bread, making the beginnings of the sandwich that it has become today.

The classic hot pastrami sandwich features slices of meat, freshly cut bread (usually rye), mustard, and pickles. Over the years, many have attempted their own versions, adding and subtracting ingredients to add flavor or a dash of creativity. Pastrami features in several dishes, but the traditional hot pastrami sandwich is by far its most high-profile use.

It’s no secret that the hot pastrami sandwich has something of a cult following (just ask Joey Tribbiani, the sandwich-loving character in the hit show Friends), so it’s no wonder that hundreds of foodies look forward to the arrival of National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day!

How to Celebrate National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day

There’s no better way to celebrate National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day than enjoying your own sumptuous sandwich of pastrami on rye. Try out these other ideas for celebrating the day:

Host a Hot Pastrami Sandwich Party

Recreate the recipe and host a party at home for friends and fellow pastrami aficionados. Put out a sandwich bar (filled with rye bread, pastrami, and toppings) and then guests can build their own to just their preferred specifications. Put a little toaster oven at the end of the line for everyone to be able to heat up their sandwiches. Or, for those who don’t feel like making food, feel free to cater it in through a local deli!

Enjoy Pastrami Sandwiches with Coworkers

Order in to the office for an interesting take on a working lunch. Or book a table at one of the leading pastrami sandwich shops in the local area and let an expert do the cooking for you and a group of colleagues.

Learn Fun Facts About Pastrami

Impress folks with interesting bits of trivia and fun facts about the featured meat in the Hot Pastrami Sandwich. Get started with these bits of information that can be shared and passed on for the day:

  • The oldest surviving New York deli is Katz’s Delicatessen, which has operated continuously since its founding in 1888. They are famous for their Stuffed Pastrami Sandwich–and for the fact that Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal filmed a scene there in the 1989 movie, When Harry Met Sally. Crystal was said to have been munching on a pastrami sandwich while the famous scene was being filmed.
  • Two different songs about pastrami were recorded in the 1960s. Hot Pastrami (1962) by The Dartells, and Hot Pastrami with Mashed Potatoes (1963) by Joey Dee and the Starlighters.
  • The Travel Channel’s Food Wars show dedicated an entire episode to this sandwich, all about the New York Pastrami Wars.
  • The world pastrami eating record is held by American Joey Chestnut, who won by eating 25 pastrami sandwiches (7 ounces each) in the span of 10 minutes.

Visit the Annual Pastrami Festival

Held each year in Warsaw, Poland, this festival features pastrami served in a variety of ways, whether traditional or unconventional. Make plans to visit this capital and largest city in Poland, and get some authentically created pastrami dishes from this region of eastern Europe where it all began.

Whatever the day involves, make sure this much-loved meat product is the star of the show. Pastrami is a well-known crowd-pleaser with a global following, so why not reach out to the wider community of fans and share photos, recipes and recommendations via social media and forums?

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