The Bagel’s Predecessor?

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The Bagel’s Predecessor?

Postby Gamliel K » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:22 pm

Rogov,

If I recall correctly, a few years ago, on the Strats Place forum, you started a thread suggesting that the bagel is the only truly unique food of Jewish origins. Well, based on an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (which is available online to paying subscribers only), I have to, unfortunately, call that suggestion into question.

The article is on Poland’s application to the EU to have the Obwarzanek Krakowski declared a regional specialty. Like the bagel, the obwarzanek is a ring shaped bread, that is boiled and baked. Among the documentation presented to the EU was a royal decree dating to 1496, giving baking rights for the obwarzanek to bakers in the city of Cracow.

Whereas, according to my understanding, the bagel was invented in Vienna by Jewish bakers in honor of King John Sobieski, and his relief of sieged Vienna, in 1683. Given the fact that Sobieski was descended from Crocow nobility (his father was Castellan of that city) it seems to me entirely plausible that the bagel may have been invented in direct imitation of the obwarzanek.

What thinks you?

All the best,
Gamliel
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Re: The Bagel’s Predecessor?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:58 pm

Gamliel, Hi….

Not only for paid subscribers…the Wall Street Journal article can be found online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 59642.html

And now, your honor, I rise in defense of the Jewish people.

1. The obwarzanek krakowski, is indeed a delicacy but is far different in both flavor and texture than the bagel. First of all, the dough is much lighter. So light in fact that no-one has ever broken a tooth eating an obwarzanek while a fine bagel is so dense that those with old fashioned artificial dentures areoften embarassed when taking a bit only to find that both bagel and teeth come out of the mouth at the same time. Simply stated, the obwarzanek is delicate while the bagel is dense.

2. It would take someone with a serious visual handicap to think a mere obwarzanek is a bagel. The surface of a bagel is always smooth while that of the obwarzanek is always curled. The difference is critical not only in the bite but in the flavor, for the curls give the obwarzanek a hint of sweetness.

3. Equally important, the obwarzanek is made from two rolled out balls of dough folded together while the bagel is made from a single rolling out. A bagel is seamless. The obwarzanek has a seam.

4. When sliced in half, bothof the halves of the bagel remain firm. Firm enough for a generous smear of cream cheese or even (forgive me, for it is not Jewish) peanut butter. The obwarzanek when sliced in half tends to become crumbly and even (at a worst possible scenario) to actually fall into distinct pieces.

5. As to major differences, once chewed, obwarzaneki slide gently down the gullet into the stomach. A fine bagel on the other hand, no matter how well masticated never slides gently for, like a true knish once swallowed it makes its way through the gullet at near the speed of sound and hits the stomach with a resounding "boom". In a phrase ain't nothing delicate about a bagel.

With all due respect to the Wall Street Journal (indeed, still one of the world's very best newspapers*) if the kralowski is the progenator of anything it is not the bagel but the bagele (pronouncede bagelay). Bageles are quite common fare in Israel, sold largely at kiosks and railroad and bus stations. They can also be found in the USA but primarily in Polish neighborhoods and there, by heaven they are offered as obwarzaneki.

Now, to make myself perfeclty clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good bagele. Sprinkled generously with salt, sesame seeds or other seeds, they can make for great munching while walking on the street,or waiting in between busses or trains.

But no matter how you cut it, a bagele (or an obwarzanek) is not a bagel. Need I mention as further proof that the obwarzenek is not a bagel for its name is always written in italics.

Best and Smiling
Rogov


*The Wall Street Journal must be a great newspaper. After all, they gave two of my books absolute rave reviews.


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Re: The Bagel’s Predecessor?

Postby Charlie Dawg » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:19 pm

More of a question rather than an argument. What about Russian Bublicks, remember the famous song Bublichki?
Here is what Wiki writes about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bublik.

Could they in fact be predecessor of Bagels? For sure they are different. If I had to describe the difference in one word it would have to be tougher or harder. That is that bublicks are harder or tougher than bagels.
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Re: The Bagel’s Predecessor?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:40 pm

Charlie, Hi...

The bublick seems more closely related to the obwarzanek than to the true bagel. Granted, however, the bublick has it charms, being so hard and firm that I have found it at its best when dipped into a cup of hot tea or coffee.

The Wikipedia link you give is a good one. Worth reading!!!

Best
Rogov
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Re: The Bagel’s Predecessor?

Postby Charlie Dawg » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:04 pm

I wish I had tasted "obwarzanek" so I could compare. As far as bublicks there are some that are about the same as bagel, still slightly harder but not by much. And then of course there are the "sushki" kind those are practically as hard as rock. Interesting subject.
Are the bagels in its American present form available in other parts of the world? I have not seen in Check republic, Italy or Austria when I was there. And in Israel I was more concern with trying to find good falafel and Salami rather than bagels.
Haven't travelled much else.
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Re: The Bagel’s Predecessor?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:54 pm

Charlie, Hi....

Bagels have become common fare in many places and are easily found in many of those cities lacking a major Jewish populace. I have found good bagels in Vienna, Paris, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, Tel Aviv and surprisingly enough in Rio de Janeiro. And, of course in many American cities.

Despite all, and from an entirely personal point of view, I would propose that the very best bagels are still those made in the confines of the five boroughs that make up New York City.

Best
Rogov
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