bagels (was Re: Nonpareils, plus book recommendation)

Anna Skarzynska theania at
Mon Apr 2 05:37:10 EDT 2001

I fear I must explain myself here. Several points.
1. I adore Jewish food. It has much in common with Polish food and so it's
like the taste of home to me.
2. America may have more Jews than anywhere else, but Hackney/Stoke
Newington/Stamford Hill areas of East London have a very large and v.
conspicuous Orthodox (Hasidic) Jewish community, big enough to run a
sizeable school. Jews, Orthodox and otherwise, but mostly from Eastern
Europe, settled in that area for at least a hundred years if not
longer.There are several bakeries and other specialist Jewish food shops
3. I always thought that the bagels made there predate the fascination with
"exotic" foods. These days you can buy food from all over the world in
mainstream supermarkets. Twenty years ago you had to go to a specialist
Yet the E. London bakeries have been around for donkey's years, and the
bagels there are shaped just like what passes for American ones in
supermarkets. So the question remains: Who invented the bagel and what is
its True Shape? Gili thinks it's American, but if so, whence the E. London
4. I am sure that the "American" bagels in supermarkets have very little in
common with the real thing available in the US. So no, I am not being
anti-American here.
5. Just read JOdel's reply and it's much shorter and to the point than mine.
But I spent all that time two-finger typing this, so I'll post it anyway.
> On Mon, 2 Apr 2001, Anna Skarzynska wrote:
> > How odd. There is a bagel bakery in Hackney, East London, and it's the
> > thing, run by Jewish people, a family business etc., and they do bagels
> > which resemble those you get in supermarkets here, only a thousand times
> > better (the supermarket ones have American flags emblazoned upon them,
> > they must be at least vaguely like the American ones). I can't believe
> > East End Jews were trying to emulate Americans! This place has been
> > for too long to be jumping on some kind of trendy food bandwagon. Please
> > explain?
> Well, I know that the best bagels are to be found in New York, just like
> the best delis. I think it's because that huge concentration of Jews from
> Eastern Europe that settled in New York City then developed these (forms
> of) these foods. And I hope that you weren't suggesting in the above
> comment that emulating Americans is a heinous thing to do. There are
> significantly more Jews in the US than there are in the UK (and more than
> in Israel, I think, which is interesting), and bagels have been around for
> far longer than the trend which led to places like Dunkin' Donuts making
> bagels (the wrong way, I might add).
> Just my pro-Jew-food two cents. :^)
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