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View Full Version : The Hole Truth About Bagels


pirate_girl
07-21-2008, 07:04 PM
There are, by actual count, umpteen bajillion Web sites that proudly recount the history of the bagelóthat is to say, a lovely and plausible story that explains everything except the crucial points. The story says that bagels were invented in 1683 by an anonymous Jewish baker in Austria. King Jan Sobieski (a.k.a. King John III) of Poland had just saved Austria from a Turkish invasion, and because of his legendary equestrian skills, bread in the shape of a stirrup (or bŁgel in German) was seen as an appropriate way to honor him.

Thatís wonderful and all, but the real mystery, which no one seems to have solved, is who came up with the idea to boil bagels before baking them, which is what gives them their characteristic texture both inside and out. (Depending on who you ask, bagels should be boiled for anywhere from a few seconds to six minutes before baking; in my opinion, longer is better.) Equally mysterious is how cream cheese, and later, smoked salmon, came to be intimately associated with the bagel.

In any case, bagels were popular with Jewish immigrants to the United States at least as early as the 1880s. They slowly gained popularity, until in the 1960s mass-production techniques made them available to a national audience. Unfortunately, even as bagels were becoming a household word, their very nature was changing. The sacrifices in quality and authenticity that were made in order to produce and transport vast quantities of bagels across the country meant that what people were falling in love with was a far cry from what was found in New York delis. Only in the last decade or two have we started to see large commercial chains that make at least a reasonable effort to offer high-quality fresh bagels.

Bagel tips:
1.The best place to buy bagels, of course, is a Jewish bakery, preferably one that only sells bagels. Failing that, at least make sure your bagels are freshly baked, and donít be embarrassed to ask if they were boiled first. It matters. A lot. All things being equal, Iíd trust a mom-and-pop store to get my bagels right before Iíd trust a chain, but there are a few exceptions.

2. You may be able to keep a loaf of store-bought bread around for a week and still find it edible, but bagels have an extremely short shelf life. With each passing hour they get drier and harder. If your bagel is more than 12 hours old, consider using it as a doorstop or a weapon, but not as food. For best results, eat bagels while theyíre still warm from the oven.

3. A well-made bagel is shiny and hard (but not crispy) on the outside, very soft and chewy on the inside. Squeeze the bagel lightly but firmly between your fingertips. It should squish almost all the way through. If you meet a lot of resistance, youíve got an old bagel.

4. If your bagel was frozen, chances are it was baked considerably longer ago than 12 hours. Even if it went straight from the oven to the freezer this morning, freezing has the remarkable tendency to dry out foods. And moisture, remember, is the main thing that makes a good bagel. Sorry, Lenderís fans, but frozen bagels just donít taste like the real thing.

5.Toppings are a personal matter, and with all these other rules to remember I donít want to burden you further. But please consider: a bagel is not merely a vehicle for transporting cream cheese into your mouth. Too much of any topping and you miss experiencing the True Bagel Essence.

Joe Kissell-ITOTD

http://content.imagesocket.com/images/1849ee.jpg (http://imagesocket.com/view/1849ee.jpg)

ddrane2115
07-21-2008, 10:18 PM
I love bagels, but since reading this I want a fresh made, right out of the oven............damn, now I am hungry again...........

pirate_girl
07-21-2008, 10:26 PM
I love bagels, but since reading this I want a fresh made, right out of the oven............damn, now I am hungry again...........
Have you ever had a fresh bagel with lox and cream cheese, Danny?
Heaven!

ddrane2115
07-21-2008, 11:24 PM
Have you ever had a fresh bagel with lox and cream cheese, Danny?
Heaven!


fresh, not that I know of, closest would have been a bakery, but then not for sure............

and what is lox..........

pirate_girl
07-21-2008, 11:57 PM
fresh, not that I know of, closest would have been a bakery, but then not for sure............

and what is lox..........
Thinly sliced, cured salmon..

ddrane2115
07-22-2008, 12:33 AM
Thinly sliced, cured salmon..

ok wthout the cream cheese and the right time of day, I can do that......I eat salmon at the buffett when they have it.