I’m such a slow learner. I’ve been living in Oregon now for six years (this time) and still when I see the word “Deli” displayed on the outside of a building I believe it’s a place where I can get a good, freshly made sandwich. For those of you who, like me, believe “Deli” to be an abbreviation of the word “Delicatessen” you may be suffering from the same illusion.
Wikipedia states: “Delicatessen is a German loanword which first appeared in English in 1889 and is the plural of Delikatesse. In German it was originally a French loanword, délicatesse, meaning “delicious things (to eat)”. Its root word is the Latin adjective delicatus, meaning “giving pleasure, delightful, pleasing”. The first Americanized short version of this word, deli, came into existence c. 1954.”
In other parts of the United States it has come to mean a deliciously fresh, diverse menu with sandwiches made to order. Rarely will you find fried foods, or use of a fryer, with the possible exception of some eat-in delis that serve French fries.
In Oregon, however, beware. The word “Deli” here usually describes a tiny, warn, space with a three or four booths or tables for seating; a minimal menu consisting of a few deli meats but mostly of items that can be quickly pulled out of the freezer and deep fried, and ; a room partitioned off, with saloon doors and no windows, where you can hear the click, click, click and occasional celebratory music as someone on the other side of that wall wins three dollars on a video lottery game.
Apparently slot machines, or video lottery games, have become the second biggest revenue earner for Oregon, after state taxes. According to State Law a business cannot make lottery games their only or dominant purpose. Hence, the cropping up of “delis” serving nothing eatable but allowing gambling all around the state. Were any of these establishments audited one would most certainly find that their dominant activity is gambling but as with all things government…money rules…and the money pouring in to state coffers from this activity provides little incentive to enforce the gambling law and limit these type of businesses.
Some believe that making these lottery game machines available in every local mall is creating a social issue by providing easy access to potential gambling addicts. I don’t know how I feel about that since from what I’ve learned an addict will find a way to his or her pleasure regardless of difficulties or consequences.
What I do believe, however, is that one cannot get a decent deli sandwich in Oregon and that should be a crime.