Friday, April 18, 2008

Dodgers strikeout adding Canter's to Koufax

Canter's Deli and Sandy Koufax -- two names that evoke the words 'Jewish Los Angeles' unlike any other. With the Tribe's contributions to Los Angeles' eateries and baseball team, it's fitting that the Dodgers would offer the delicacies that seem as much a part of Judaism as the Passover story: salt-cured beef and matzah ball soup. It only took 50 years for that to happen.

Part of a multimillion-dollar field-level expansion project at Dodger Stadium, Canter's Deli -- an anchor of the Fairfax district since 1948, but with an L.A. history that dates back to 1931 in Boyle Heights -- joined Gordon Biersch, Panda Express and all those Dodger Dog windows. Its menu is truncated but carries the essentials: matzah ball soup, corned beef and pastrami sandwiches and that marriage of the two meats, the Canter's Fairfax.

An avid Dodger fan -- the kind who takes his wife to games on their anniversary -- I was eager to sample the new fare. The line was short and my Canter's Fairfax was served up suspiciously quickly. Indeed, something terrible happens to thinly sliced, heavily salted meat when placed under a heat lamp. It doesn't melt in your mouth -- it flakes.

What I couldn't find at Canter's or any other concession stand was a kosher hot dog. Providing a kosher nosh would require renovating the kitchens at Dodger Stadium and peeling Farmer John's grip from its hot dog monopoly. A Dodger spokeswoman said the club has "no immediate plans" for this.

Fortunately, I don't keep kosher. But plenty of Angelenos do, and for years they've felt like they're missing out of one of the most enjoyable elements of rooting for the Dodgers: Eating a lukewarm hot dog that is never as tasty as you remember.
This is from a piece I wrote for this week's Jewish Journal. Plenty of other stadiums offer kosher nosh, including the Boston Red Sox, who just announced the additional menu item alongside the Fenway Frank. That makes Steve Getzug, an L.A. public affairs executive and founding member of the Lou Barak Memorial Hot Dog Committee (I could be so lucky in death), a bit jealous.

"Our field of dreams," he said, "includes kosher hot dogs."

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