Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bagels don't have blueberries

My jaw muscles (probably my best toned body part) are completely exhausted. I've just eaten a toasted H&H poppy seed bagel. Given a genuine bagel, this is an anaerobic activity. You will "feel the burn" if you work your way through a proper bagel without a resting period. Bagels aren't easy.

I hear a voice somewhere saying "I've never had that problem with a Duncan Donuts bagel."

And cinnamon and raisins - like blueberries - are not properly to be found in bagels. Bagels don't have blueberries.

OK - I know, they do. Even at places that should (and probably do) know better, like H&H. But despite the ready availability, I maintain that bagels don't have blueberries. The blueberry bagel demonstates the danger of popularity, of assimilation. Doubtless, many people reading this would already be lost - What's so wrong about blueberry? So pernicious?

"I like blueberry bagels. What's your problem? You're a bagel snob!" Dare I say it (that is, imagine them saying it) - "A bagel nazi!".

I admit I'm intolerant - but I feel I have just cause. It has come to this - I can get a thing called a blueberry bagel just about anywhere. (It might not actually contain real fruit, but that's a topic for another piece.) This product, this blueberry bagel, will have blue spots in it. It will have an aroma that its makers expect to be evocative of blueberries. It will be sweet.

But whether blueberry flavor or not - I cannot buy an actual bagel, something I regard as a proper bagel, almost anywhere. With rare exception, the bagel as I knew it has become unobtainable. The market is flooded with bagel shaped bread-units sold as (gasp) bagels.

The essence of bagel is not shape. The bagel contract is not fulfilled by virtue of shape alone. Proper bagels (though having a very slight sweetness on the outside) are savory, not sweet. While not a difinitive test, consider the phrase:
"What would lox do?"

Bagels, in addition to not being sweet through-and-through, are also not soft. They are not readily compressable. They can not be crushed to make a pasty substance suitable for sculpting - as can be done with white bread.

But this isn't just about bagels - the point here is that the bagel is like so many ethnic or regional specialties. It has crossed over and become a popular, broadly distributed product. And the product that so many Americans enjoy today is not true to the original product - and I miss the real thing. I am Noshstalgic.

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