Daily photographs by HANS VON RITTERN, with humorous, artistic and social commentary on life in the big city.

Mondays on Memory Lane: YORKVILLE’S SCHALLER & WEBER’S GERMAN DELICATESSEN

SCHALLER WEBER

Mondays on Memory Lane: YORKVILLE’S SCHALLER & WEBER’S DELICATESSEN –  At the turn of the century from 1890 – 1910 one third on New York City spoke German, today hardly anyone does and instead you hear Spanish, Russian and Chinese.  I was born in 1955 and as a child we would go to the German section of the city named Yorkville. Yorkville’s center street was East 86th Street and it’s surrounding streets. In this area you could still here strains of “wunderbar” and ooom-pah-pah ♫♪ all around you. You could buy everything from back home: Mecki books, Salamander shoes, Zarah Leander and Heino records, teewurst, Loden coats, Tyrolian hats, beer steins, wooden nut crackers, Lübeck Marzipan, German magazines and newspapers and all the wiener schnitzel and beer you wanted.
That was then, today there are only 2 establishments left that I know of. The Heidelberg Restaurant (1648 Second Avenue) where today the little dark haired Guatemalan waiters wearing (much too big) lederhosen  tell you the day’s specials in a heavy Spanish accent. But…there is one staple that has remained – Schaller and Weber, opened in 1937 at 1654 Second Avenue/86th Street, a German delicatessen where the white haired old German butchers with German accents still politely slice the fresh deli meats daily.
When I was a little boy, this place was heaven to me and still is. You can just lock me up behind the deli counter and leave me in there for a week. Ahhh! The smoked hams, the dozens of salamis, the stuffed peppers, stuffed veal, weiß wurst, Westphalian ham and my obsession – roladen! Roladen are very thin slices of beef, rolled up with spices, bacon and onion inside, pan fried with a rich dark gravy, add boiled potatoes and you’re set. Then there are also the wonderful chocolates, sauces, white asparagus, smoked fish, hearty breads, Bahlsen cookies, Maggi and Knorr spices and a fine assortment of cheeses.
In 2013, for a person born in to an all German family, Schaller and Weber is that one place I can still retreat to and relive my childhood, inhale deeply and feel at home. The store, (thank god) has hardly changed. They are struggling to hang on throughout the great disruption of the second avenue subway being built. There were rumors of them not being able to afford to stay open, but when I reach the corner of 2nd Avenue and 86th Street – they are still there – a sight for sore eyes. I go inside and it is Christmas/Weihnachten 1962 and I’m standing in line with my numbered ticket to be called as I am fixating on all the goodies I hope my mother will buy for the Christmas holidays, always topped off with the treat of a Lübecker marzipan bar. Some kids dreamed of being locked up in toys stores and candy shops – I dreamed of being locked up in Schaller and Weber!
Here is a partial list of their goodies and a link to their web site:

Spaetzle (German Noodle)

Imported Brands Maggi, Panni, Bechtle, Riehle (Manager’s Favorite)

Pickles & Sauerkraut Gundelsheim, Hengstenberg, Pickled Herring

Mustard & Ketcup Lowensene, Handlmaier & Thomy, Feisner & Hela (Ketchup)

Honey (Honig) Bihophar & Langnese (Assorted Flavors)

Soup & Gravy Mixes Knorr, Maggi Potato Dumplings & Pancake Mixes

Jams /Jellies Darbo (Austrian), Vavel (Polish), Landsberg (Germany)

Breads Landsberg, Mestemacher

German Cheeses Limberger, Harzer Kase, Tilsit

Coffees Jacobs, Tchibo, Dallmayer

Syrups Darbo (Austrian), Marco Polo (Hungarian), Adro, (Many more & assorted flavors)

Assorted Cosmetics 4711, The oldest brand in Germany, Fa, Nivia, Kamille

Sweets & Treats Haribo: Gummy Bears (Large Variety), Swedish Fish: Abba (Assorted Flavors), Bahlsen Cookies: Kipderl, Waffelette, Butter Leibniz, Kopper’s Chocolates, Marzipan: Maker, Mozart Kugeln: Reber

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