In terms of bread, is there a bread more bread-like, bringing more pure, unadulterated bread pleasure, than a bagel?
The answer is obvious, but as this is a blog let’s talk around the subject a bit before giving the answer about 400 words further down the page.
Numbers first. A normal, workaday roll comes in at a modest 133 calories. A bagel packs more than twice the calorific punch, coming in at an impressive 289 calories.
These raw, inarguable stats, are at the heart of the bagel’s appeal.
But the bagel isn’t just a heavyweight bread – it is also the most delightful to have and to hold.
As with all the best designs, the bagel’s perfect composition has a utilitarian purpose that would have the Bauhaus lads purring. The hole in the middle provides more surface to allow the thing to bake more quickly and has the added advantage of giving you more crust compared with the aforementioned crusty roll.
This perfect harmony of form and function underpins the bagel’s timeless popularity.
It is the reason why the Beigel Bakery down on Brick Lane never, ever closes. It is my belief that the entire, thriving night-time economy of London’s East End is predicated on the reassuring fact that, whenever you choose to spill out of your chosen basement, you can, without doubt, get yourself a cream cheese bagel before taking the night bus home.
From a more personal perspective, the beigel has played a leading role in keeping the family unit together. The Sunday trip to Grandma’s, with its ‘always-on’ potential for surgical life enquiries, sometimes seemed onerous. But we always went, in large part because we were guaranteed the chance to pop into the Gants Hill deli on the way home.
So, the beigel is bread, but more so.
Which brings us to Jake Wild Hall’s World Cup of Bread™, which has been lighting up Twitter over the past few weeks and has caused many of us to have deeply philosophical ruminations over what makes the daily staple, in all its forms, so integral to our world-view.
At the start of the tournament, I played it fairly casual, voting occasionally. Then came my sense of shock at challah’s early exit (possibly coming from the fact that is not called ‘that shit-hot bread that is a bit like brioche but is actually *much* better) and I have thought about little else since.
I have backed the big ticket breads, the naan, the baguette, the crumpet. But now, as we are faced with our Bagel v Pita final, it is time to lay the cards on the table and answer the question posed at the top of this blog, which I will repeat, for effect:
In terms of bread, is there any bread more bread-like, bringing more pure, unadulterated bread enjoyment, than a bagel?
The answer is rhetorical.