For the record, Citizens – I’m still smarting from my recent and very reticent confession that Chicago makes a superior hot dog to my home city of NYC.
So – it’s time to even the harsh scales of justice and tip the results back to the borough of my birth, Brooklyn!
As everyone knows, the best bagels on earth are made in New York City (Silence, Montreal – you do make a fine bagel (in its own way) but there is still no comparison!).
For a genuine NYC bagel to live up to its pedigree, you need a true “chaw” (chewiness), they must be boiled before baking and a perfected balance of malt and leavening must be present.
This bagel recipe for home bakers is truly the ultimate, as recorded by George Greenstein in his wonderful book “Secrets of a Jewish Baker: Authentic Jewish Rye and Other Breads“. This is as authentic as you can possibly get short of boarding a flight to JFK, Citizens!
The hideous, flaccidly spongy bread abomination screaming to be put out of its misery as served at Noah’s is an insult to the noble bagel and deserves no further mention by civilized, God-fearing people.
While it’s widely agreed that bagels came to the United States from the Jewish shtetls of Eastern Europe, experts can’t pinpoint the exact origin of the humble bread with the hole in the middle.
One legend has it that the first bagel was born in 1683 when a Viennese baker wanted to pay tribute to Polish King Jan III Sobieski for saving the people of Austria from Turkish invaders. Since the king was known to have a passion for riding, the baker made rolls in the shape of a stirrup, known in German as beugel.
In “The Joys of Yiddish,” however, Leo Rosten notes that the first printed mention of bagels came even earlier, in 1610, in the Community Regulations of Krakow, Poland. These stated that “bagels would be given as a gift to any woman in childbirth.” The ring shape may have been seen as a symbol of life.
Whatever its ancestry, the doughnut-shaped roll quickly caught on, becoming a staple among Eastern Europeans. In Yiddish, they were called beygel; in Russian, boobliki; in Polish, obazanki.
Bagels came to New York in the 1880s, with the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Eastern European Jews. Vendors used to thread the hole-shaped bread onto dowels and hawk them on street corners. The pronunciation of the word never changed, but the spelling was Americanized to bagel.
Create the ultimate bagel sandwich as I do – slice a bagel in half, slather it with full-fat cream cheese mixed with minced scallions and a touch of minced jalapeños. Add some capers, then a few pieces of thinly-sliced red onion, all covered by a single layer of smoked salmon liberally coated with freshly-grated black pepper.
This, Citizens, is truly heaven on Earth for this transplanted New Yorker!
Battle on, The Generalissimo
The Authentic NYC Bagel
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