Jul 13, 2011

New York New York: Bagels and Coffee

As Lonely Planet wrote, what's the fuss about bagels? It's just bread with a hole in the middle, right? I had mine back in Taiwan and thought it overpriced and disappointing. It is not until you sink your teeth into a genuine New York bagel that you get hooked to its crusty surface and chewy insides.

A genuine bagel (genuine: NOT the 7-11 types with damp squashy dough and unidentifiable fillings in it, or the overpriced store in front of National Taiwan University which made bagels like sponge cake) is made of just flour, water and salt. It is often still rolled by hand, boiled, then baked. Hence the crisp outside and densely chewy insides. They can be sliced in half, then spread with cream cheese or butter and occasionally topped with lox (brine-cured salmon). A well-done bagel should have a smooth, glistening, crispy outer skin with a resistantly compact and springy inside dough. It comes in a variety of flavors, and just so you know, sesame seed was the one selected to go to the Space Station.
On a sleepy morning, a bagel saturated with cream cheese gently wakes up the palate. Not as jaw-wrestling as a baguette or soggy as loaves (in Asia, generally), a well-baked bagel is somewhere in between. First the cheese melts in your mouth, then the dough (and whatever flavor of it) wafts through the nostrils, before you chew it to your heart's content, your stomach is yearning for a fresh new bite.
Coupled with hot coffee (+ 1 teaspoon sugar), that's my American breakfast at work.
I usually get mine free at morning reports - a conference of residents and medical students discussing basic clinical topics. However, being the exam season lately, I can have them at $1 (one-dAller) from the street food vendor or $1.19 + tax from the lobby bakery. Absolutely can't live without it. I'm stocking them up to bring back end of this month!