I come from a long line of bread eaters. Bread is the one food I definitely overindulge in and one day it will probably be my undoing. About 25 years ago bagels became all the rage in this country. Bagel shops seemed to be popping up everywhere. The country may have moved on to other fads but I have not. I have a bagel for breakfast at least 5 or 6 days a week. It seems that I just can't help myself.
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. Best as I can tell the bagel was invented in Krakow, Poland in the late 16th century and quickly became a staple of the Polish diet. This got me to thinking. Why do we associate bagels with Jewish people? According to Wikipedia: "There was a tradition among many observant Jewish families to make bagels on Saturday evenings at the conclusion of the Sabbath. Due to Jewish Sabbath restrictions, they were not permitted to cook during the period of the Sabbath and, compared with other types of bread, bagels could be baked very quickly as soon as it ended." That certainly makes sense to me. When hundreds of thousands of European Jews began immigrating to New York in the 1880's they brought bagels with them. Street vendors would thread the hole-shaped bread onto dowels and hawk them on the streets of the city. To this very day the modest bagel remains an exceptionally popular item in the city of New York among people of all races, colors and creeds.
These days there are still lots of places to indulge your passion for bagels. Every morning on the way to work I stop at a place called "My Favorite Muffin and Bagel Cafe" for a bagel and coffee. This is a chain with several stores around the country. These are definitely the best bagels available in my area at the present time. Dunkin' Donuts offers bagels on their menu but I have found that save for the Multigrain variety they are just plain awful. Freshly baked bagels can also be had at many supermarkets. In my experience the bagels at Whole Foods are head and shoulders above the rest. Meanwhile, you can now find literally dozens of varieties of bagels. Choose from traditional favorites like plain, poppy, sesame, onion and cinnamon raisin or try some of the more exotic varieties like sun-dried tomato, jalepeno, banana nut or pumpkin to name but a few. I think I will still with the traditional varieties. Among my favorites are poppy, sesame and the multigrain. I enjoy them toasted with just a little bit of butter but you may prefer your bagel smothered with cream cheese. And of course bagels are great for sandwiches as well. I have always heard that the very best bagels anywhere are made in New York City. I have had the distinct pleasure of sampling New York bagels on a number of occasions and can confirm that his is indeed the case. Legend has it that the reason New York bagels are better than anywhere else on the plant is the water. Go figure! Although I have been enjoying bagels at breakfast for years I never seem to tire of them. I find it is a great way to start the day. Very highly recommended!
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A bagel is a bread product, traditionally shaped by hand into the form of a ring from yeasted wheat dough, roughly hand-sized, which is first boiled for a short time in water and then baked. The result is a dense, chewy, doughy interior with a browned and sometimes crisp exterior. Bagels are often topped with seeds baked on the outer crust, with the traditional ones being poppy or sesame seeds. Some also may have salt sprinkled on their surface, and there are also a number of different dough types such as whole-grain or rye.
Bagels have become a popular bread product in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Like other bakery products, bagels are available (either fresh or frozen, and often in many flavour varieties) in many major supermarkets in those countries.
The basic roll-with-a-hole design is hundreds of years old and has other practical advantages besides providing for a more even cooking and baking of the dough: the hole could be used to thread string or dowels through groups of bagels, allowing for easier handling and transportation and more appealing seller displays