A bagel is a bread product traditionally made of yeasted wheat dough in the form of a roughly hand-sized ring which is first boiled in water and then baked. The result is a dense, chewy, doughy interior with a browned and sometimes crisp exterior. Bagels are often topped with seeds baked onto the outer crust with the most traditional being poppy or sesame seeds. Some have salt sprinkled on the bagel.
The bagel was invented in Central Europe, possibly in Kraków as a 1610 document mentions beygls given as a gift to women in childbirth. This is cited as the earliest known reference, but the document is not absolutely clear about what a beygl is. Also uncertain is the relationship, if any, to the sweet Hungarian pastry, bejgli.
An oft-repeated story states that both the bagel as well as the croissant originated in 1683 in Vienna, Austria, when an Austrian baker created them to commemorate the victory in the Battle of Vienna over the Turks that sieged the city. Similar to the crescent-like bend croissant (Hörnchen in German, little horn) which is said to have been inspired by the Turkish flags, the bagel is supposedly related to the victorious final cavalry charge led by King John III Sobieski of Poland. Thus, the baked good was fashioned in the form of a stirrup (German: Steigbügel, or the similar Bügel-shaped horseshoe, or saddle, tales vary).
That the name originated from beugal (old spelling of Bügel, meaning bail/bow or bale) is considered plausible by many, both from the similarities of the word and due to the fact that traditional handmade bagels are not perfectly circular but rather slightly stirrup-shaped. (This fact, however, may be due to the way the boiled bagels are pressed together on the baking sheet before baking.) Also, variants of the word beugal are used in Yiddish and Austrian German to refer to a round loaf of bread (see Gugelhupf for an Austrian cake with a similar ring shape), or in southern German dialects (where beuge refers to a pile, e.g. of wood Holzbeuge).
Main Entry: ba·gel
Etymology: Yiddish beygl, from Middle High German *böugel ring, from bouc ring, from Old High German; akin to Old English bēag ring, būgan to bend — more at bow
: a firm doughnut-shaped roll traditionally made by boiling and then baking
(Oxford English Dictionary)
[ad. Yiddish beygel, app. (Webster) f. MHG. *böugel, whence G. dial. beugel, bäugl, dim. of MHG. boug-, bouc- ring, bracelet:OHG. boug = OE. bag BEE2.]
A hard ring-shaped salty roll of bread. Also attrib. Cf. BEIGEL.
1932 L. GOLDING Magnolia St. x. 165 Bagels are like large wooden curtain-rings to look at... She cut them and buttered them.
Childhood in Exile
by Shmarya Levin (1867-1935)
New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company
There they received a glass of whisky, and a beigle -- a sort of doughnut, to go down with it. "Go down with it" is a euphemism. Some of the workers used to settle quietly down to work, and pack away fifteen and twenty beigles. But the term "appetizer" was not an exact one in Swislowitz.
They brought their food along with them, and most of the time it consisted of a piece of unbuttered bread, a tail of salt herring, and a beigle -- a sort of doughnut -- for dessert. If the bread was buttered, or smeared with chicken fat, the herring or the doughnut was "off."
It was a difficult and thankless profession, but Cherneh could not raise the price for fear of competition on the part of the bakers of beigle, or doughnuts. It was generally conceded that though the pancake was heavier and more satisfying, the beigle was daintier and sweeter: it was therefore impossible to give either of them the advantage of price. And Cherneh used to complain bitterly: "Would to God I had begun with beigle instead of pancakes. But too late now. I am known as Cherneh the pancake maker, and I daren't experiment."
BAGELS AND LOX:
"Bagels and lox" soon became a classic New York food combination. I found the first citation for this in the Library of Congress's online American Memory database , February 17, 1939: "Dis strike. It ain't lox an bagels."
"Bagels and Lox Delivered for Breakfast in Bed" is in the New York Herald Tribune, 5 December 1947, pg. 32, cols. 6-8. It's a story about Murray Schwartz of Brooklyn; a similar story was in the picture magazine PIC in the mid-1940s.
BAGEL ALL THE WAY:
Bagel "All the Way" is a newer order of bagel. I found this on the menu at the Gracie Mews Diner, 1550 First Avenue (Corner of 81st Street):
BAGEL ALL THE WAY 11.25
with cream cheese, Nova Scotia lox, lettuce, tomatoes, onion and Kalamata olives
3 August 1988, New York (NY) Times, pg.C7, col. 3:
The "everything bagel" is dusted with salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic and onion.
The New Yorker
by Michael Schulman March 10, 2008
Until recently, the everything bagel was of murky origin. Given its all-inclusive name, you’d think that whoever came up with the idea would have a capacious ego to match. But a few weeks ago the story went public, on the Web site of a small Long Island advertising business run by a man named David Gussin. Gussin, who describes himself as a “struggling altruistic entrepreneur,” claims to have created the everything bagel almost thirty years ago. On the site, he wrote, “It’s the one story my daughter’s friends always found interesting. So I’ll go with it.” As declarations of provenance go, this is less like Philo Farnsworth saying he invented the television than like Forrest Gump saying he invented the smiley face.
As is often the case (Post-its, the microwave), the genesis of the everything bagel was a “fluky-type thing,” Gussin said the other day. When Gussin was fifteen, he took a part-time job at a takeout place in Howard Beach run by a guy named Charlie. It was a simpler time for bagels: you had plain, poppy, sesame, onion, salt, garlic, and—on the exotic end—cinnamon raisin. One of Gussin’s duties at closing time was to sweep up the burnt seeds that had fallen off in the oven during the day. Gussin developed a taste for them, and one afternoon—he guesses around 1980—“instead of throwing them out, like I always did, I swept them into a bin and said, ‘Charlie, let’s make some with these!’ ”
Charlie, who was mildly enthusiastic about the idea, agreed to sell the newfangled bagels for a nickel extra. According to Gussin, the name “everything” came instantaneously. “There was no marketing meeting or anything like that,” he said. “It was a one-second thought process. Boom.” The flavor became popular “the next day,” and pretty soon Gussin’s brainchild—minus the burnt-seed concept—had spread to a bagel place over in Lindenwood. Within a year, Gussin said, “the everything bagel was everywhere.”
So far, no one has contested Gussin’s claim, setting his invention apart from the radio (Marconi vs. Tesla) and calculus (Leibniz vs. Newton). When asked if he had any hard evidence, Gussin said simply, “It wasn’t around the day before I created it, and it never stopped the day after.”
New York City • Food/Drink • (0) Comments • Thursday, August 12, 2004 • Permalink