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My Bagel Journey

When I was in college, I would go to the local bagel shop almost every day for lunch, quarters in hand like a kid venturing to a candy shop. Because my school break was early, I was able to make a beeline straight to the counter and order, thankful to avoid the to-be-expected long lunch lines.

I would hand over four quarters or occasionally a wrinkled dollar bill and get two sesame bagels in return. And because I was inevitably rushing to do this between classes and refused to plan ahead by stopping on my way to campus in the morning, I would immediately devour them, plain, as-is. No fancy shmear, no butter, not toasted. 

Now much older, the thought of consuming two large bakery bagels in the span of five minutes not only seems like an impossible task but also a stomach ache waiting to happen. Ah, the joys of youth! 

These were my first bakery bagels, and they opened my eyes (and taste buds) to the deliciousness of what a bagel could be. Prior to my first stop here, I thought all bagels were akin to Sara Lee’s, which, even on their best days, bore no resemblance to what bakeries were filling their rolling carts with each morning. And once I tried one, I couldn’t get enough! Day after day, I returned for more of these freshly baked bits of heaven.

As my college days wound down, so did my double bagel lunch routine. I eventually moved on to more appropriate lunch choices, although I did reserve the right to splurge here and there.

Once I graduated I moved to the suburbs. Here, independent bagel shops are somewhere in between nowhere to be seen and few and far between.  Even after decades of land development here, it is still not easy to find bagels other than those sold at the corner grocery store, but those leave much to be desired. 

So to combat the bagel desert I reside in, I decided that it was finally time to utilize my baking skills and start making them myself. Although I was a little apprehensive at first, I am delighted with the outcome. Truth be told it is hard to not fall in love with just pulled from the oven, still warm bread. 

Bagel making has now become part of my weekend routine. Sunday mornings are now filled with all the simple joys - walking the dogs, making espresso, thumbing through the newspaper, and now boiling and baking bagels, all the while wondering what the day has in store. Like the bagel toppings, the possibilities are endless!



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