BAGELS : A DIGITAL SMORGASBORD
Bagels have been a Polish and Slavic staple since the 16th-17th centuries respectively, the first recorded mention of a bagel being in 1610 in the city of Krakow, Poland. According to historical records, the bagel was gifted to women in childbirth at circumcision ceremonies.
The name has its roots in Yiddish and German dialect, meaning 'ring' or bracelet' and, like challah, is of South German origin. I guess you could say it was BREAD and RAISED in the Polish shtetl, sold on the streets by vendors with baskets loaded with bagels or strung on sticks. When the Jewish people left Eastern Europe in great masses to America in the 18th century, many sold bagels in pushcarts, peddling their products and fuelling a carb addiction to the chewy foodstuff that has raged on FOR CENTURIES.
In the 19th century, 'Bagelmania' - rendered by Eastern European nostalgia and the American love of bread - swept the country and bagels became imbibed into American Jewish cuisine. The classic "New Yawker" way to eat them? Order a "lox and a schmear" and you will be rewarded with a bagel topped with cream cheese and cured salmon.
What is a bagel?
A bagel is a ring-like bread product traditionally shaped by hand and made from yeasted wheat dough which is boiled for a short time in water before being baked. Roughly hand-sized, the bagel typically has a dense, chewy and doughy interior with a golden-brown, shiny finish. At its most basic, bagels comprise of wheat flour, salt, water and yeast leavening.
Commercial bagel production really took over in the 1960s favours steam-baking over the boiling process as it is less labour-intensive - this yields a softer, fluffier product which loses much of its characteristic chew. Jewish grandmothers everywhere are rolling in their graves. Bagel purists will not even deign them worthy of the titular word 'bagel'. Oy vey!
Variations of the bagel worldwide
American bagels are typically Montreal-style or New York style. The Montreal-style bagels are smaller, crunchier and sweeter. Without salt, the Montreal-style bagel is boiled in honey-sweetened water before baking in a wood-fire oven. The New York bagel contains salt and malt and is boiled in water before baking in a standard oven.
European variations are similar to traditional bagels, yeast-leavened wheat bread that is ring-shaped and often topped with poppyseed, sesame, caraway etc. The German substitute is the pretzel with its knotted, darker appearance. In Turkey, the simit - which has been around since 1525 - is a twisted, sesame-encrusted ring of bread akin to the bagel.
Uyghur cuisine favours a form of bagel known as 'girdeh nan', meaning 'round bread' in Persian. The hole does not go fully through the bread.
In this age, non-traditional interpretations also abound. We have seen the advent of frozen bagels, flat bagels, bagel chips, sandwich bagels, rainbow bagels, and bagels of every filling and flavour conceivable. Let's get onto the fun part now - dissecting the cultural 'roll-within-a-hole' that is the bagel.
Trending...oh wait false alarm!
But one more thing before we start that I felt the need to share with you all! Unsuspecting me just typed in 'bagel trends' into google search and came up with a pretty ludicrous trend. Not exactly what I was expecting but oh my god Japan takes the bagel for kookiest country with their bagel-shaped saline forehead injections.
And oh god...apparently this is a thing.
Ridiculous!!! Here are some ACTUAL bagel trends to sink your teeth into...
BAGELS IN THE DIGITAL AGE
After a lot of procrastinating and emotionally eating gummy bears, I have come up with a list of things I find INTERESTING, SHOCKING or just DAMN DELICIOUS. This list is by no means inclusive in any way and I am not a bagel expert but holy crap did I fall down the rabbit (or bagel..heh) hole and find myself in an alternate reality of disco hues and gluttonous heart-cloggery. What I love best is that the bagel is such a GOOD platform - it's so versatile and functions as protective, carb armour for its innards, whether they be classic cream cheese or filled w/ birthday cake confetti cream cheese! Anyways, less talk from me. Lights, cameras, B A G E L S...!!!
The Everything Bagel
Invented sometime around the 1980s, the Everything Bagel is bold, brash and uncompromising, a NY institution, a spice-encrusted bagel of dreams and endless possibilities. It seems the no-holds-barred intensity of the Everything Bagel has inspired a culinary trend of dousing literally anything in Everything Mix. Eateries and the internet have caught on like wildfire with the crafting of any conceivable 'Everything' flavoured dream into foodie reality.
Everything Spice is a versatile mix! See gallery below:
Brooklyn Boy Bagels in Sydney are our local favourite, so rustic and denser than any we've had in Australia. They promise to deliver the authenticity of Polish and New York by never steaming their product and instead using a two-day fermentation process followed by boiling.
Find Brooklyn Boy Bagels at 448 Bunnerong Road in Matraville, as well as at farmers markets, pop-ups and Sydney cafes.
Equal parts luridly offensive and hella fun, rainbow bagels are a cultural hippie-meets-tradition phenomenon popularised by The Bagel Store, who began churning out the tie-dye-inspired breads two decades before its meteoric rise to fame. Scot Rossillo, the owner, attributes this to the US Supreme Court's recent ruling on gay marriage, celeb culture and Instagram. Methinks the video below, viewed by 65.1 million peeps, had something to do with it too.
Can we get them in Sydney? After a lot of googling, I come back to you guys empty-handed w/ tail between my legs. The demand for these bagels in New York is INSANE. In the 5 hours taken to churn out 5,000 bagels, The Bagel Store is only able to produce 100 bagels resulting in perpetual lines and waiting lists for shipping codes allowing customers to finally place an order. The bagels, which apparently taste like cereal, come with bespoke cream cheese varieties from 'Birthday cake' to 'Cannoli'. A Day-Glo confection not to be missed, I'm sure but for now I think I'll give my pancreas and poor old heart a breather.
Honestly, in the wake of the cronut/cruffin/other crap we eat, you shoulda seen this one coming. I have no words to describe this gluttonous hybrid because I haven't tried it but if it's anything like the aforementioned pastries, it is sure to divide the masses into 'eww' and 'ohmylord#goals'. The Bagel Store describes their calorific creation most aptly below as:
" a delicate, flaky, buttery croissant baked into a flavorful tasty bagel. Introduced by “The Bagel Store ” to the New York City market in September, 2013. It is 50% croissant, 50 % bagel and 100% delicious – all of the characteristics of a bagel with the delicate flaky taste and texture of a croissant "
Shhh no words, only tears.
Truth be told, I still think I prefer frangipane-smothered, caramelised to a tooth-sticking crust almond croissants anyway! I mean holy mackerel is there anything more perfect in this world?
Overstuffed Dessert Bagels
Surprise, surprise! America leads the charge with overstuffed sugary gutbombs that will have you slumped over in a diabetic coma for days. The Bagel Nook features a crazily indulgent oreo and fruity pebble creation. Bagel & Brew also delivers a sucker punch to health goals with its wildly decadent Elvis bagel, an unholy union of the late crooner's favourite foods, peanut butter, bacon and ooey gooey honey soaked banana. Bagels have also been stuffed chockfull with the likes of cookie dough, flavoured cream cheese and ice cream.
It's like a sandwich,
Re-inventing the sandwich, the bagelwich represents mankind's evolutionary leap into sentient being, a more advanced and improved way of replenishing the calorie stores and regulating our downstairs plumbing heh heh... (bagels are dense, you guys!). From bacon and eggs to Reubens to pizza bagels and beyond, we got your foodporn covered, blogfam <3 Sit back, drool into a cup and enjoy the slideshow!
The Wacky and Wonderful!
Rather than bombard you with a wall of text (you've made it so far...*sniffs* I'm so proud!), I'm going to drown out all your senses in a visual glut of cream cheeses, wacky bagel infusions and awesome sweet and savoury bagel combos that will have you reaching for your passport. Cream cheese comes in large trays reminiscent of gelato store displays in its kaleidoscope of colours and flavours. I AM IN LOVE!
Sweet Bagel Combinations
How close can we get to dessert while still calling the bagel a breakfast food?
Savoury Bagel Combinations
While once only plain cream cheese was used, now flavours such as cinnamon raisin, lox, bacon scallion, pumpkin, cookie dough, nutella and honey walnut have become a basic human right (only jesting, just in America!). Tompkins Square Garden Bagels offer up some pretty left-of-field creations such as wasabi, chipotle avocado and a bunch of tofu varieties to appease the vegans.
Asian Sensation Bagels
So, I don't know about you but having been born and bred on char siu and polo buns, my taste for bread is usually of the 'asian bread shop' variety. Be it biology, nostalgia or because it is just too darn tasty, I find myself hankering for asian flavours so often that a genuine concern for when I go travelling is 'where da pho at'. IT'S A SERIOUS ADDICTION GUYS!
Asian-inspired bagels are thus, the best of both worlds for me. BREAD? GOOD! GREEN TEA? GOOD! EXOTIC FUNKY FERMENTED CONDIMENTS? REAL GOOD...
One more Asian-related thing... I have just discovered that the Good Food Mont's Night Noodle Markets (Oct 8-25) is hosting a bagel stall with the most incredible-sounding flavours. Are you salivating yet because I definitely am!
So is this interesting?
Well, is it?! OR AM I THE ONLY ONE THAT CARES??? ..Guys????...
I'm thinking of doing regular posts that put the spotlight on the history, trends and odd/wonderful things going on in the land of food and would like to hear what you guys think and want to read about. I'm thinking ice-cream next? Ahh the possibilities are as endless as my metaphoric appetite (alas, my physical appetite is restrained by human weakness!!!). But for now, take care, eat well and BRB, going to plan my US eating bagel tour of the world.
Love and bagels,