Our Favorite Jewish Food Scenes in TV and Movies

Where pastrami sandwiches, black-and-white cookies, and brisket are the stars of the show!

There’s nothing like seeing yourself represented on screen, especially when the TV show or movie in question highlights the food of your heritage. And at The Nosher, we are smug in the knowledge that Jewish food ranks among the best in the world — even if it has a tendency toward a beige color palette. So we rounded up the best on-screen Jewish food scenes, and threw in a recipe for each one, so you can whip them up yourself. 

When Harry Met Sally

We had to kick off this list with the beloved 1989 rom-com When Harry Met Sally, specifically the iconic scene featuring Harry and Sally at New York’s Katz’s Deli. Harry orders their famed homemade pastrami sandwich, and Sally opts for turkey with the coleslaw on the side. The sandwiches are overflowing with meat, though Sally, infuriatingly, removes half her turkey — what’s that about? — before proceeding to school Harry on the commonality of fake orgasms. 

Temptation: 10/10 — we’ll have what she’s having!

Make it yourself: Take Sally’s sandwich up a notch with a Rachel, the cousin of the Reuben. 

Sex and the City

In season six, Charlotte, intent on becoming the perfect Jew for her boyfriend Harry, prepares an elaborate Friday night dinner in an attempt to encourage him to “set the date.” She even ropes in infamously kitchen-averse pals Carrie and Miranda to help her braid the challah. Harry is treated to gefilte fish, matzah ball soup, brisket, and a whole host of other Ashkenazi delights, but the evening doesn’t go to plan…

Temptation: 9/10 — ever the perfectionist, Charlotte rolls hundreds of matzah balls just to get thirty that are exactly right. No danger of any sinkers here. 

Make it yourself: This crockpot sweet and sour brisket is foolproof, perfect for a first-timer! 

Shtisel

This Israeli TV show about a Haredi family living in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem highlights the cultural importance of a good meal — from Shabbat dinners to piled-high plates of cold Yerushalmi noodle kugel and pickles at the local cheap food joint. Our favorite food scene, however, occurs in season two, when Shulem, the often-grouchy patriarch, finds himself caring for a rescue dog named Dubche. With no dog food to hand, Shulem serves the lucky pup leftovers from Shabbat — including chicken schnitzel and what looks like cholent. 

Temptation: 8/10 — no dog, or human, can resist such hearty classics.

Make it yourself: This Israeli-style schnitzel is perfection. 

The OC

Turns out Sunday morning bagels are a celebrated tradition in California’s Orange County — at least in the Cohen household. When Marissa turns to them for solace in season two after her father leaves, she secures their affection with a bag of bagels. Sandy Cohen, AKA the best Jewish dad ever, shows her how to perfect the schmear — he even cuts the bagel with a handy dandy slicer he just happened to have to hand. “Are you OK?” Seth asks Marissa. “Of course,” replies Ryan, “we have bagels.” Truer words have never been spoken. 

Temptation: 8/10 — this scene is crying out for lox, slices of tomato, and capers. 

Make it yourself: For those of you who don’t have easy access to fresh bagels, you can make your own!

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Midge Maisel, beloved protagonist of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s wildly successful TV show, knows her Jewish grub. In season two, she takes her non-Jewish friend Imogene to her favorite Jewish deli, and orders a slap-up feast. Imogene is treated to half a hot pastrami Reuben on rye, the much-underrated chicken in a pot, a potato knish, matzah ball soup, a cheese Danish, and black-and-white cookies for dessert. Perfection.

Temptation: 9/10 — throw in some chopped liver and you’ve got yourself a 10!

Make it yourself: You can’t beat a bowl of matzah ball soup

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Crossing Delancy

This 1980s movie is a charming ode to Jewish life on New York’s Lower East Side. In this scene, protagonist Izzy is coerced into a blind date with Sam, a pickle vendor, by her shrewd bubbe and a pushy matchmaker. Naturally, the meeting takes place at bubbe’s apartment, who fills her table with classic Ashkenazi delights, including flanken, boiled beets, potato knishes, and coffee cake. 

Temptation: 7/10 — beets are a risky first-date food, and the only activity a meal like this puts you in the mood for is a nap.

Make it yourself: Potato knishes are surprisingly easy to make at home.

Seinfeld 

Seinfeld is full of Jewish food references (for an exhaustive list, click here), but season nine’s episode, “The Blood,” is arguably the best example. George experiments with incorporating food into his sex life — but isn’t satisfied with strawberries or chocolate sauce. Instead, he brings a pastrami sandwich with spicy mustard on rye into the bedroom, and takes surreptitious bites while doing the dirty. We don’t blame him — that sandwich looks heavenly. 

Temptation: … to each their own.

Make it yourself: Why settle for a sandwich? Upgrade your deli roll with pastrami, fold it into your challah, or add it to your Thanksgiving stuffing!

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