Bagels and Bologna, Any Way You Slice It

ashkenazSo Twitter was apparently atwerp the other day with a tweet about slicing bagels from top to bottom "like a loaf of bread," something designated as the "St. Louis Way." Lots of responders chimed in saying this was blasphemy, anti-semitic, and probably subject to an independent counsel investigation.  As a lifelong Jewish Chicagoan, I can tell you all this missed the point. The bagels in Chicago suck.

It didn't always seem to be this way. I grew up on the North Side, in East Rogers Park. Sunday evening frequently began with a walk to Ashkenaz Delicatessen on Morse Avenue, with a dinner that was easy for a 5-year-old to order of "kreplach soup, a toasted bagel, and Coke."

I don't remember if the deli offered a variety of bagels, but mine was always plain. Traditionally split in the horizontal fashion, it was crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and ready to absorb oodles of butter pats from the little bowl on the table. It could also be dunked in the soup, once the kreplach (the best in town) had been eaten, leaving remnants of golden broth.

I haven't enjoyed a Chicago bagel as much since then. I have tried them from all over. There has been  Kaufman's in Skokie, Chicago Bagel and Bialey in Wheeling, Original Bagel and Bialey in Buffalo Grove. They just lack that succulent feel that I remember.

New York Bagel and Bialey in Lincolnwood has been my "go to" place for many years. But every time I pick up a dozen I lament that they just aren't like the old days, but then, what is?

I miss the frequent trips we used to take to New York City when Laury lived there. NYC bagels are still great. Available at hundreds of shops in Manhattan they are as big an attraction to the city as Broadway and the Statue of Liberty. On our most recent visit, Barb and I gladly waited for 90 minutes at Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side for our lox and bagel sandwiches. Definitely worth the wait.

Panera Bread got involved in the bagel tweetstorm as well. They offered Alex Krautmann, the original tweeter, some free bagels. Now I know that Panera sells doughnut-shaped things they call bagels but is that what those blueberry and jalapeno pastries really are? I don't think so. Alex, take your free dozen, slice them any way you like, and then give them away. You won't be sorry. I promise!

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