I Have Made Myself Hungry Again
WHAT CAN I SAY? IT’S A HABIT. IT’S A WEAKNESS. It’s a bagel. A morning is not complete without a bagel. If I don’t have my bagel I feel cheated. I feel depressed. I feel hungry.
Finding a decent bagel in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Pass the cream cheese.”) is not easy. Real, honest to goodness bakeries are hard to find. What most places offer up as bagels are just a half step above hamburger buns and just won’t do. But, as in any time of famine, one gets by with whatever one can find.
I think that you have to be in or within commuting distance of a big city to find a genuine, legitimate, my grandparents came from Eastern Europe, bakery that boils their bagels and is sold out by 9 AM.
Kroger’s don’t cut the Nova Scotia.
When I lived in Cleveland, and later in San Francisco, there were bakers who knew what they were doing. It was like they just got off the boat from Warsaw. If you wanted their bagels you had better get there early and you might walk out of there with a brown paper bag filled with the still warm gems.
Here in Small Town, Indiana…well, I had a café owner offer me a bagel and he even offered to cover it with sausage gravy.
He is dead to me now.
Not long ago I saw a plastic bag filled with six of something they called “bagels.” On the label it stated that their bagels were “Gluten-Free.” I’m sorry, but that is not a bagel. That is round artificial toast – without flavor, texture, or a spot on my table.
There are a number of different kinds of bagels; Plain, Salt, Onion, Poppy seed, and the list goes on. I knew of one baker who sold fifteen different bagels. That was pushing it a bit if you ask me – But you didn’t ask me, did you?
When I can get some real bagels I go for either the “Salt” which is self-explanatory, or the “Everything” which is covered in poppy and sesame seeds and anything else that will stick to the dough. A good Everything bagel for breakfast will have you sucking on a toothpick until Lunchtime.
One thing that I cannot and do not abide, even though they are popular, are the sweet bagels. Why do they put Blueberries or Cinnamon in a bagel? If I wanted something like that I would stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. Maybe I’m a bit of a purist, but I know what I like.
I’m making myself both hungry and nostalgic. It is getting on toward supper time and I can almost taste and feel the texture of what we used to call “Russian Black Bread.” My mother would buy a loaf or two when we visited her sisters in Cleveland and make the best sandwiches ever with that dark rye. It was a substantial bread, not like the gummy paste of things like Wonder Bread. My grandfather, a Lithuanian immigrant, spoke of American White Bread as cake, suitable for dessert. If you had a thick slab of Black Bread and butter you could throw it and break a window. It was a meal in itself.
That’s it. Now I’ve done it. I’m going to have to start scouring the area until I find a bakery that can salve my wounded memory. Only some real bagels and a loaf of Russian Black Bread will satisfy me now. Maybe some Pierogis too?