All this newfangled stuff is trash, full stop.
I’m heavily biased toward bagels. I’m East Coast-born, Jewish, and currently residing in New York City. Bagels are not only one of my favorite breakfast foods; they’re part of my heritage as well.
Whether your loyalties lie with the almighty Manhattan bagel or its smaller, sweeter cousin up north in Montreal, the bagel is a versatile and celebrated culinary gift that has been for hundreds of years. However, this does not mean they are free from the attention-starving trendsetters looking to thrust this well-respected food into the meme-o-sphere.
“Weird” and “fun” bagel trends have been out of hand for a while, and all they do is drag the good name of this beloved ring of bread through the mud. Galaxy bagels, rainbow bagels, “kooky” cream cheeses, bagels with their guts scooped out—they’re all trash.
I’m not alone in my feelings. For one, Ron Silver, the owner of Bubby’s in New York City, told me he’s only OK with five flavors. “Having spent my early childhood summers in Brooklyn, I am a staunch traditionalist,” he said. “I am also not a fan of whole grain bagels—another travesty. Onion, poppy, sesame, rye, and plain for your kids or goyish friends.”
I say there are six bagel flavors in the world worth eating. Check them out and may god have mercy on your soul.
As far as bagel trends go, let the everything bagel be the trendiest, “silliest” bagel you ever eat. Sprung from the loins of the seed and spice gods, the everything bagel has… well, everything you need for a delicious meal. Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion, and sometimes a sprinkling of salt if you’re lucky. It’s a hullabaloo of flavor that should satisfy the twee-lust of millennials everywhere. Show me a person who doesn’t like an everything bagel and I’ll show you a damn fool.
Ahh, egg bagels—a delightful amalgamation of the two greatest breakfast elements on the planet. Using up to eight (!!!) egg yolks in a recipe, the egg bagel has its own distinct flavor, color, and following, making eating one an especially delightful experience. I recommend a smattering of white fish salad to complete the culinary experience.
You want a “weird” flavor? How about a “fun” color?! One word, four syllables: pump-er-nick-el. With a taste straight from the old country (any old country), the pumpernickel bagel is the digestible iteration of a classic flavor. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this, but whenever I bite into a pumpernickel bagel, I immediately have a vision of an old woman in a babushka hanging laundry on a clothesline. Anyone else?
It goes without saying that onion makes everything taste better. It’s the Tom Hanks of the flavor world, completely without folly and respected across the world. This rings true when it comes to bagels, too. Paired with scallion cream cheese, the unstoppable onion bagel can do no wrong. So, whenever you see someone photographing their rainbow-dusted, unicorn-themed docrobagoissant, beg them to drop the phone and pick up an onion bagel.
Did you eat a poppy seed bagel this morning? OK, so you have poppy seeds in your teeth. That’s very fine. Tiny inconveniences aside, there is no flavor akin to poppy seed. This bejeweled bagel gives you a colorful experience, pairing the classic act of chewing with the meticulous task making sure your teeth are free from poppies. Think of it as an old-timey arcade game you play with your tongue and teeth.
Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, slightly sweet, somewhat salty, undeniably pristine. No matter how you eat it—cream cheese, butter, lox—the plain bagel is more than a baked ring of dough; it’s a flavor vehicle and a testament to the engenuity of immigrants. Beautiful in its simplicity, the plain bagel is more than plain… it’s perfection.