Friday, January 30, 2009

Food Fact Friday: Bagels

I'm in NYC this weekend and needed something New York-ish to write about. I've done Pizza and Hot Dogs. My Long Island friend suggested bagels...duh! New Yorkers think their bagels are the best, and hopefully I'll get to sample one during my trip. Here is the story of the bagel...

A bagel is defined as "a hard bread roll made of yeast dough twisted into a small doughnutlike shape, cooked in simmering water, then baked." The bagel is the only bread product that is boiled before it is baked. That's what gives the bagel its unique texture and the crust its characteristic shine.

Legend has it that in 1683 in Vienna, Austria, a local Jewish baker wanted to thank the king of Poland for protecting his countrymen from Turkish invaders. He made a roll in the shape of a riding stirrup (Bugel in German, commemorating the king's favorite pastime. As bagels gained popularity in Poland, they were officially sanctioned as gifts for women in childbirth. Mothers also used them as teething rings that their infants could easily grasp.

When the Eastern European Jewish immigrants arrived in North America at the turn of the century, they brought the bagel with them. Many settled in Canada, giving cities like Toronto and Montreal their reputation for having superb bagels. The American bagel industry established formal roots in New York between 1910 and 1915 with the formation of Bagel Bakers Local #338. This exclusive group of 300 craftsmen with "bagels in their blood" limited its members to sons of its members.

Professional bagel baking required know-how and backbreaking labor. Bagel makers' sons apprenticed for months to learn the trade. Bagel-making machines, a boon to commercial bakers, were introduced in the early 1960's. The machines form bagels by extruding the dough through the ring shape. These new machines could help bakers produce up to 4,800 bagels an hour, making bagels much more affordable and readily available to today's consumers.

Big Bucks Bagel: The most expensvie bagel was served at the Westin in Times Sqaure. It was topped with Alba white truffle cream cheese and goji berry infused Riesling jelly with golden leaves.


Nazarina A said...

Ooooh the bagel with the gold adornments!!!I'll have that!
I miss Fort Lauderdale after being away a whole month ha! ha!

Abby said...

What a fascinating entry. I didn't know all that about bagels! I love that they were used as teething rings!