What Makes a Proper Deli?

DeliMany of you may have noticed the growing trend for food outlets like cafés, coffee shops and small restaurants to call themselves a ‘deli’.  It’s no doubt a trendy ploy to attract more customers to use the word ‘deli’ in their branding and promotions.  Indeed, particularly in the US, there are genuine deli’s that offer customers an area to sit down and eat. But in many instances, customers are enticed into a premises, only to find that they are in fact in a café or coffee shop, masquerading as a deli!

Deli Cymreig

At Deli Cymreig, our vision for a deli was a counter groaning under the weight of the huge choice of cheeses, cold meats and other traditional deli products.  Our deli focusses on offering produce which is not only locally sourced and made with local ingredients along with genuine, seasonal foods.

Our deli is a business where, as owners, we know the history of the products we offer, know how the food is prepared (and we prepare a high percentage ourselves) and can guarantee that when we say homemade, we mean homemade!

Authentic Deli

An authentic deli should not become a gift shop or a tourist attraction, though of course we’re happy to sell products like chutneys as gifts and to serve anyone who chooses to buy from us!

Generally, the deli concession in a restaurant or café tends to be located near the till or exit, featuring recipe books along with a few foodie items which may have made their way into your meal. In these instances, the ‘deli’ element was never the actual reason for your visit, but it’s possible that the use of the deli word helped lure you in.

So here’s a question: does offering a counter with a couple of cheeses a few jars of chutney and a bottle or two of olive oil make a deli? We think not, and our hearts sink when we see an existing deli or a new one focussing on its menu and table bookings rather than the quality and range of local produce it could be selling.

The word “Deli” clearly retains high retail value on the high street, otherwise why would there be such blatant attempts by major brands like Walkers to get in on the act with their ‘deli-style’ crisps!  With this blatant attempt to cash in on what is obviously thought to be a ‘cash cow’ there is a chance that the somewhat unique nature of being a Delicatessen is in danger of being watered down by the over use of the word.

So, how can you tell the difference between a ‘real’ Deli and a business claiming to be one?

The easiest way is to take a look at who’s running it? Will you find the owners there when you visit? Are they not only passionate about food, its provenance and seasonality, but are they knowledgeable about what they are selling and able to give good advice on choices to customers?

Is it your local deli place you visit when you’ve exhausted searching the supermarket aisles, only to find that had the deli been your first port of call, you would have saved yourself a lot of time, effort and money?

Bastions of Fine Food

In our experience at Deli Cymreig in Swansea Market, a good deli is somewhere many find difficult to walk past; it needs to have that wow factor and  to offer something very different. In many ways delis are the bastions not only of fine food, but of innovation. Many products which finally find their way onto a supermarket shelf started life at farmers market, or on the shelves of a delicatessen. A good deli owner will champion local, they will champion quality and they champion innovation.

As with everything in life there are good delis upholding the principle of everything a deli should be and those which have the outward appearance and little else. Make sure you find a real deli, discover something new and support your local deli, because without customer support they and many of the producers they champion simply won’t exist.

To find out more about the produce we sell at the family owned Deli Cymreig, visit us in Swansea Market or you can view a selection of our products on our online shop.


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