For most New Yorkers, deli means pastrami, and pastrami means Katz’s. This is simply a fact of life, like death and taxes. But Katz’s exceptionalism is based on more than the meat — which, in and of itself, can be great or middling, depending on the day and the cutter. It’s based on the establishment’s insistence on hand-slicing and the intimate relationship it fosters between customer and cutter (tips appreciated). It’s based on the clanking, chaotic living history of the place itself — less stuck in time than beyond time, somehow. And it’s based on the fine line Katz’s alone walks between unabashed tourist attraction and beloved local joint, where every segment of society strolls in, takes a ticket, and surrenders to the ebb and flow of the archaic ordering, seating, and payment system (cards accepted for waiter service, cash only at the register, don’t lose your ticket!). When everything else is uncertain, comfort yourself with Katz’s Ur–New York hot dog, all snap and salt under a mantle of mustard and kraut. If New York has terroir, this is what it tastes like.