Monday, January 08, 2007

What's In A Name?

While some may see the proliferation of variety a huge benefit of life in suburbia, it does have drawbacks which lead to many questions.

For years, dating back to my suburban life on Long Island, I saw the plain bagel develop colors and flavors that just don't seem right on a bagel. I get trying to bring in the Gentile market but still, shouldn't a bagel be a bagel?

What makes a bagel a bagel? I'm sitting at a Panera on Bloomfield Avenue in West Caldwell, NJ (birthplace of President Grover Cleveland) and eating my favorite Panera item: a cinnamon crunch bagel. But was it really a bagel? There was no hole in it so it looked more like a roll than a bagel. And if it were truly in the bagel family, it would be more of a bialy than a bagel. But bagels come in many varieties while I have only seen one type of bialy in my life. You would never see a cinnamon raisin bialy.

A bialy also doesn't have a hole. It has a dent in the middle. So is it the hole that makes it a bagel? Well if that were the case, wouldn't a donut be a bagel? Of course not. A donut is more like a cake while a bagel is more like bread. So right there is a clear designation: cake vs. bread. Okay, a donut is not a bagel.

At what point does a bagel become a tasty roll? This cinnamon crunch thing on my napkin is pretty close. It doesn't have the texture or the consistancy of a bagel. You also wouldn't put plain old butter or cream cheese on it. Once you start getting into the flavored spreads, you're out of the realm of bagels as far as I'm concerned.

A fellow blogger has some thoughts on this very important subject. For one thing, a bagel should not be toasted. I don't really agree with this one but she's a city dweller and doesn't know from suburbia. In suburbia, it's very common to buy more bagels than you need. Sometimes a bagel needs to be toasted, or at least nuked, in order to make it edible again. But getting a bagel right from the store? No toasting.

Weird flavors are forbidden. And that's where the cinnamon crunch thing falls. Bagels are plain or poppy or sesame or garlic or egg or salt or everything or pumpernickel. I guess whole wheat is acceptable. Some will include cinnamon raisin but not me. Once the bagel starts tatsing sweet, it's a roll. Or a muffin. Cinnamon crunch, asiago cheese, french toast and the like are not bagels. They're rolls.

I still love the cinnamon crunch bagel. I love Panera. And I will continue to seek out my favorite Panera food at least until I go on Weight Watchers again. But I will not order it as a bagel. "Gimme two cinnamon crunch" and leave it at that.

1 comment:

miriam said...

It's absolute sacrilege to call that thing a bagel.