Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman may be retiring, but his legendary New York deli fundraiser lives on. This evening, New York Democrats Steve Israel and Jerry Nadler will engage in a contest of meats, vying to bring the most authentic New York deli experience to Washington.
Both men have invited their favorite hometown deli to town to prepare a proper spread complete with pastrami, corned beef, knishes and all that is good and delicious about New York style deli - and Ackerman will judge what man brings the superior nosh.
The smack talking has already begun.
"I'm going to crush Jerry Nadler in an onslaught of mean and lean Ben's Kosher (Deli) pastrami. I actually feel sorry for Jerry, he is out of his league," Israel told the Alley. "He's invited some second rate, some deli that I don't even know."
Nadler shot back, that Liebman's Deli "will smother them in loads of chopped liver. ... Anybody who is forced by his district to maintain that Long Island Jewish deli is as good or better than New York City Jewish deli just has a bad hand. I can't blame him for the hand his district dealt."
There's a lot on the line. For almost three decades, Ackerman's been raising campaign cash by bringing New York deli delicacies to D.C. It's one of the only fundraisers on Capitol Hill that also attracts members from the other party. And no wonder.
Ackerman would invite Ben's Best from Queens, which trucked down all the fixings -- including New York City water because, as Ackerman explained, "You steam New York corned beef in Washington water and you got Washington corned beef." -- and the deli employees because, he said, "if you don't get insulted by the guy who's giving you your sandwich, you're not eating a New York corned beef."
So what advice does Ackerman have for Nadler and Israel's dueling delis?
"We're going to see what these guys are offering and between the two I'll use my lifelong expertise and ... see whose guy came up with a more authentic deal. We're gonna see who cuts the mustard."
Game, and grub, on.