It was 5 p.m. at Doheny Kosher Meat Market on a Sunday night. We came in through the back door past a “No Admittance – Employees Only” sign. We felt like Lorraine Bracco entering the Copa Cabana for the first time in Goodfellas. There were about ten men bearing large cleavers, chopping away at beef and whole chickens amidst candlelight in accordance with Passover laws. Dozens of carcasses lay in wait to be taken home by one of the many orthodox and kosher customers hovering over the meat counter. One lady yelled out, “Where's the ticket to take for my place in line?” The butcher replied, “There's no ticket. I see you. You wait in line here.” The atmosphere was fairly tame for the night before Pesach.

Women in scarves totting young children browsed the ribs and ground beef section, inspecting the “kosher for Passover” signs hanging below them. A middle-aged blonde woman perusing the non-refrigerated shelves asked what the difference between regular matzah and egg matzah was. “I'm making a Glatt kosher dinner for a bunch of non-Jews,” she said. “Oh, then you'll want the egg matzah,” another woman responded, “It's not considered kosher to the orthodox, but it tastes better. Softer.”

Butchers shouted orders to the staff as the line shrunk. There were no smiles, but there were no breakdowns either. But things have been known to get heated. A sign taped on a paper towel dispenser behind the deli counter reads: “I apologize in advance for our short tempers. We are very busy & sometimes don't think before we speak. Thank you, for your patience.”

Doheny Kosher: 9213 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles; (310) 276-7232.

Butcher's best friend: piece of meat that won't talk back; Credit: Celia Soudry

Butcher's best friend: piece of meat that won't talk back; Credit: Celia Soudry

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