A bagel is a savory round bread with a hole in the middle. It should be crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It's origins can be traced back to Jewish Eastern Europe but it has become an iconic New York food you can find anywhere in the city.
Bagels are commonly topped with different seasonings and traditionally filled with cream cheese and smoked fish. Andrew Silverstein, from Streetwise NY Tours is a Jewish New Yorker, and he can guarantee it's almost impossible to find a decent bagel outside the city. That's why he decided to make a video explaining how to make your own NY style bagel with tips on where to find the best products.
Real New Yorkers all agree that bagels shouldn't be toasted. If the bagel is fresh, and by fresh we mean made within the past 5 hours, toasting it would be a crime. If you find that hard to believe just take a look at the response Mayor Bill de Blasio got after he tweeted he liked his bagel toasted!
Bagels undergo two cooking techniques: boiling and baking. The story behind this method dates back to the 17th Century in Krakow, Poland when the King forbade Jews from baking their bread. Without the possibility of using an oven, Jews decided to boil their bread and hence create the bagel! Nowadays bagels are also baked after the boiling process to form the crunchy exterior.
Silverstein's recommendations for store bought bagels include places travelers are most likely to visit. Here are just a few, but you can read his full post on bagels on his blog.
- For a classic bagel he recommends Russ & Daughters Appetizing Store on 179 East Houston Street A New York classic since 1914. No seating.
- Ess-a-Bagel is another classic spot with various locations. Not many people know this but Andrew let us in on an insiders tip: the 3rd Avenue and 50th Street location has a back counter that sells the bagel, packs or cream cheese and lox for you to assemble your own bagel. If you prefer to buy it ready-to-eat you might have to wait in line for a while.