I was thirteen when I ate my first bagel. At the time, my mother worked for an Optometrist and we received invitations to a brunch at his Temple. There, we were presented with a bountiful display of gloriously unfamiliar foodstuffs. Among them was a basket of bagels, already halved and nestled in beside a tray of toppings.
Oh what what what is this wonderful dense bready thing? And this brilliant cheese which spreads so creamy on top? You don't say! You can have your sweets, dear children, your donuts and muffins and coffee cakes. Just leave this basket of glory alone because it's me and these bagels and philly from here on out.
At eighteen, on a trip to San Francisco, I was treated to my first fresh-baked bagel, sprinkled with a flurry of Kosher salt flakes. I clutched that bag of bagels on the drive home. Bagel-making is an art form and there are as many different schools of thought on the process as there are ways to flavor your bounty.
The one thing all serious bagel aficionados can agree upon is that real bagels are boiled. New York and Montreal-Style (smaller and sweeter) bagels have been fighting for top honors for quite some time, but both originated in Poland with references as far back at the 17th century and arrived in the Americas via Jewish immigrants. I cannot thank them enough for that glorious gift.
For my Sun-Dried Tomato Bagel and 19 other awesome recipes, check out REAL BAGELS ARE BOILED.