Have hunger pangs? A hangover? A need for a breakfast on the run? Can’t find anything to meet your needs? Don’t worry – bagels do. Biting into a delicious ring of chewy, filling carb loaded goodness is an act that plays out throughout the world on a daily basis – but there’s another side to this cold war!
Not one, but two North American cities boast that bagels are deeply, intimately tied to their food culture. Above the border, Montreal natives swear by their city’s reputation for sweet bagels, crowding into St. Viateur or Fairmount bakeries to get their hands on chewy brown rounds and defending their claim to be the best bagel center of the world.
However, their claim is met and challenged y the average New Yorker. Bagels are the life and breath of the Big Apple, with delis, bagelrias, bakeries and street vendors enthusiastically hawking the slightly larger, less sweet circles – often split with a schmear, but just as often eaten plain, turned into a sandwich, or taken home and contrived into a meal
Both cities take pride in their bagels, but who can say which style of bagel is superior? Opinions are sharply divided, and of course local bias comes into play. Understanding why the two bagels are so different can aid in understanding this unique food showdown – but will Montreal or New York win the bagel crown?
No matter which city you call home, most bagel lovers agree that the bagel was originally created in Poland, and Polish-Jewish immigrants brought their love of the “roll with a hole” to the new world. Bagels are boiled, unlike any other breadstuff, before being baked to perfection – preferably in a brick oven fueled by old fashioned wood.
The main difference between Montréal bagels and New Yorker bagels is the sweetness factor – apparently the Poles who settled the great white North came from an area of Poland where honey and eggs are routinely added to the bagel dough mixture before boiling in a vat of water that also has honey added. The result is a sweeter bagel – the very thing new Yorkers despise.
Fairmount and St. Viateur are Montreal’s “bagel giants”, although certain stores have opened up south of the Canadian border – even in New York itself! However, the New Yorker bagel is still considered the standard, with many scoffing at the sweeter Canadian bagels as non-authentic.
Likewise, Canadians object to the New Yorker bagel as less tasty, too large, and too “fluffy” – although an authentic New York bagel will actually be dense and not anything like what you can get at your local doughnut shop. New Yorker bagel eaters will also point to their staggering variety of flavors, a point at which the Montreal version falls flat.
Of course, you have to decide what kind of bagel is best for yourself, We suggest trying as many bagels as possible from as many different venues as possible, We’re fairly confident that you’ll agree that new Yorker bagels are the best, no matter how far you travel for your fix!