Sometimes I just want a decent bagel that costs under $3, a mid-afternoon gluten bomb to pick up my spirits. As a reader of this blog, I can only assume this resonates deeply with you. Thank you for that validation.
I have to admit that this is mostly a situation of circumstance. That is to say, I only feel this way when I’m aimlessly walking down the street and just so happen to pass a bagel merchant.
I walked into La Bagel Delight and walked out with a bagel that is as hard to fuck up as it is to make it stellar: an everything bagel with plain schmear.
The skill of the baker and a bit of the laziness of the preparer/toaster/schmear-spreader were embedded in the bagel. My praise to the baker for the firm, well seasoned crust and the softer, relatively light mantel. The toasting along the slice was sloppy, however, and the schmear was barely chilled and quickly became runny. All of that is somewhat reasonable on a day approaching 90°F.
The size of the bagel’s hole was the hardest for me to digest as it was slightly more than an indentation in the surface. Perhaps it is important to question the virtue of the hole. That is to say, why are bagels with holes tastier than those without?
A larger hole allows for more surface area to be exposed to the boiling water, yielding a higher amount of crust. And the absolute increase in crust is augmented by a relative one as the mantel is exchanged for the outer shell and empty space. As the hole gets larger, the ratio falls into a place where each bite has just the right amount of each layer: crust, insides and schmear.
Of course, there is a point where the hole is too large for the bagel and the structural integrity suffers. This is just as bad a situation as too little hole. While I’m still exploring the optimal ratio, I have lately been enjoying bagels where the hole’s diameter is roughly equal to one third of the diameter of the entire bagel.
If I’m being honest, my afternoon delight was by no means a good bagel, let alone stellar, but I definitely don’t regret devouring it. Sometimes a bagel is just a decent bagel, to be consumed and then quickly forgotten.