Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Zen of Bagels

Taken from the newsgroup.

One thing for sure: bagels places have become as common as candy stores used to be (sadly said for both) and Gresham's Law has taken hold. Never again will the quality of bagels be something to be taken for granted.

What follows is the sort of thing that never would have been written when All Was Well With The World, when bagels were two for a nickel (rolls were three for the same price) and came in one flavor: plain. It's offered in the hope of rescuing and demystifying a once-simple pleasure. The title is totally phony and was designed to catch the eye. The real title is:

How To Eat A Bagel
  1. General considerations
    1. Despite the by now universal practice, a bagel should never be cut. (See below for limited exceptions.)
    2. It should not be eaten as a holder for cream cheese, lox, etc.
    3. A bagel should be eaten because it is a bagel.
  2. Procedures
    1. Approach the bagel with no show of awe or reverence. Very important. Reading a newspaper is helpful.
    2. Grab bagel firmly with left hand.
    3. With the right hand, tear off a two-inch segment.
    4. Examine bagel:
      1. Bagel and segment should both retain essentially the same shape as before. Slight flattening permissible but no more than that.
      2. If bagel fails this test, discard and go to a different bakery.
    5. If bagel passes first test, take a first bite.
    6. Judge bagel.
      1. Bagel should be very chewy and taste like the sun. (Hot and mostly hydrogen? --spaf)
      2. If bagel fails this test, discard and go to a different bakery.
  3. Playing through
    1. Continue reading the paper. (Very important.)
    2. If asked how you like the bagel, answer with an indifferent "all right" or "ekh, a bagel". Any show of ecstasy or bliss is bad form.
  4. Ritual variances
    1. Bagels may be sliced and eaten with other food only:
      1. On Sunday at breakfast.
        1. But not with grandchildren present.
    2. When in company which might misunderstand the approved method for bad manners or mistake it for bagel-snobbery.
  5. Advanced topics
    1. Try bialys. They're still what they should be.

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