Saffron Alexander wrote . . . . .
The simple bagel has been a staple in homes all over the world for over 400 years, but how much do you really know about your favourite lunchtime snack?
This National Bagel Day we round up 8 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about the humble bagel…
Brits are big fans
According to the New York Bakery Co., we get through 80 million packs and eat over 320 million bagels a year in the UK.
If they were all stacked up on top of each other our total bagel consumption would measure at approximately 1920600 metres – that’s around 6402 Eiffel Towers.
They have to be round
In a world where no food is safe from experimentation from hipster chefs looking for the next viral food trend – we’re looking at you Cronuts, sushi burgers, and ‘joffee’ – it’s relieving to know we’ll always be able to count on the bagel to stay true to form.
The word “bagel” comes from the German word “bougel”, meaning “bracelet”, so bakers are free to get as creative as they’d like when it comes to experimenting with weird flavours and toppings, but if they want it to be considered a true bagel it has to retain its circular shape with the hole in the middle.
Rainbow bagels exist
While bakers don’t have much leeway when it comes to shape, they are free to get as crazy as they like with everything else and one New York bakery seems to have taken that as a personal challenge.
The Bagel Store specialises in “artistically created bagels of unique colour and flavor”, which is clever marketing speak for a normal bagel dyed with all the colours in the rainbow, then slathered in either Nutella, cream cheese, rainbow sprinkles, candyfloss or cake mix filled with even more sprinkles – or maybe all of them at once, if you’re feeling brave enough.
They take so long to make, head baker Scot Rossillo can only produce 100 Rainbow Bagels every five hours. In comparison, he can make around 5000 normal bagels in the same time period.
They’ve been to space
In 2008 astronaut Gregory Chamitoff brought the first bagels to space after taking 18 sesame bagels with him to the International Space Station as part of his personal cargo allowance.
Chamitoff took bagels from his aunts bakery in Montreal. Mona Chamitoff, owner of the Original Fairmount Bagel Bakery that they were “very flattered” her nephew had decided to take the bagels with him into space, and they he had always loved the bagels and couldn’t imagine leaving Earth for six months without them.
The recipe used to be top secret
Nowadays anyone with an internet connection can find themselves a decent recipe for making bagels, but it wasn’t always like that.
In the early 1900s the International Beigel Bakers Union was founded and bagel making, considered a skilled trade, was restricted to union members only. Only sons of members of the union would be invited to join and group meetings were rumoured to have been conducted almost entirely in Yiddish.
Matthew Goodman, author of Jewish Food: The World at Table, once wrote: “Every bagel that was made in New York City up until the 1960s was a union bagel — every one. The reason why this union was strong was that they were the only ones who knew how to make a proper bagel. And that was the keys to the kingdom.”
This all changed in the 1960s after Daniel Thompson invented the automated bagel machine capable of making up to 4800 bagels per hour.
It used to be a four man job
Thompson’s invention has made the making of a bagel a fairly simple process, but it didn’t used to be. Back in the early 1900s making a bagel was task that took the skills of up to four people to complete.
As bagels are the only type of bread that requires a multi-step cooking process, two men would be employed to rol land shape the dough, a third – the “kettleman” – would boil the bagels, and the fourth man – known as the “oven man” – would bake them.
They used to be given as gifts…to new mothers
Unsure about what to gift your pregnant friends to welcome their new child into the world? Just give them a bagel.
According to ‘Regulations of Kracow, Poland’ in 1610 bagels were gifted to pregnant women during childbirth. Husbands would encourage their wives to “bite the bagel” while in labour and, after the child was born, bagels would later be used as teething rings.
The world’s most expensive bagel will set you back £800
Most of us would probably at the prospect of spending more than a few pounds on a bagel, but if you have more expensive tastes why not head to the Westin Hotel in New York?
Here you’ll be able to get your hands on the world’s most expensive bagel, and it’ll only cost you around £800.
The bagel earns its surprising price tag by using some of the most expensive ingredients in the world including white truffle cheese, Riesling jelly, goji berries, and gold leaf.
Source: The Telegraph