The final humiliation was this week's shuttering of NY's H&H Bagels, what many consider to be the Mecca of bagel-making. Actually, the real NY-style bagel - that doughy-crusty-chewy piece of heaven - has been lost in most parts of America for years, having been appropriated by massive food conglomerates and bland Midwestern tastes. Food writer Josh Ozersky laments the bagel's passing for Time:
Bagels, old-fashioned ones, are hard to make. You have to poach them carefully and then let them proof for 10 hours on wooden trays. And even then, there's no guarantee that they will be good, because the mix of malt and salt and yeast requires years of practice to get right and acts differently depending on the weather, the water and other variable conditions. So basically, American bakeries looked at the increasing popularity of the bagel in midcentury and said, To hell with that. They came up with the usual shortcuts, cost-cutting measures and innovations. These include "steam baking," where you try to add a little water in the bake rather than boiling the things first and, of course, adding dough conditioners to make sure the bagels never get hard as they sit on the shelf. There are still some good bagels in the U.S., but few are made the old-fashioned way.
Most bagels these days are no more than variations on a round, soft roll (good for sandwich making). Frankly, I wonder why the bagel killers continue the charade - they should find another name and put our yeasty friend out of his misery. Call it what it is - a roll with a hole in the middle. I give you the rhole.