Day 192 – National Bagel Day

Everyone seemed to be talking about two things today: the snowstorm and National Pizza Day.  Whenever there is a national day that becomes popular and starts trending online, I get a little nervous.  Like the spotlight is on me.  I feel a need to really up my game.  So for every silly article I see posted by Buzzfeed or Mashable that tells me the top ten places to eat pizza or the life hacks for getting rid of pizza boxes, I feel like I need to come out strong in my celebration.  My only problem is that when I saw Pizza Day coming, I was kind of uninspired.  I’ve celebrated pizza on this journey a few times.  Sausage Pizza, Cheese Pizza, National Pizza Month – it’s been done.  I’m sure there will be more in the future too.  I realized that today was also National Bagel Day.  Now that was something I could really get behind.  Then the Thunder Snow came.

It was actually only raining for the first part of the day.  I thought I was going to wake up to a snow covered landscape.  Instead, it was just a wet and windy day.  Very windy.  But meteorologists kept warning us the snow was coming, so I waited.  Then the snow came.  I think I looked outside at about 11 am and it was still just raining.  Then I looked outside again a half hour later and the whole world had exploded in snow.  Wind was whipping, the ground was covered and the storm had come in strong and fast.  Thunder snow was happening.  Actual echoing claps of thunder along with flashes of lightning in the middle of a snow swept world.  Lola hid under the covers.  I grabbed the Dragonglass and stayed vigilant for White Walkers. What a strange day.  We ended up losing power for about an hour in the middle of the day, but stayed strong cozying by the fire and waiting for the good folks at National Grid to do their job.  They did, so thank you.  It snowed pretty much all day and into the night.  In my planning for the day, I thought I may be able to order pizza at some point and join the Pizza Day celebration, but as soon as the snow started, I knew that idea was off the table.  I think most businesses were reasonable yesterday and closed.  So no pizza, but I did have bagels.

When we were in New York on Monday, we picked up bagels at Zabar’s.  I knew Bagel Day was coming and it was too perfect not to get authentic New York Bagels while we were there.  When I got home to Rhode Island, I stashed them in the freezer and then pulled them out to thaw on Wednesday night.  Then, when I was buying my milk and bread for the storm, I made sure to pick up cream cheese, tomatoes and red onion.  You’re probably thinking why the hell didn’t you get some fresh sliced-to-order lox from Zabar’s.  Well first, I am not a fan of lox, although I hear that’s a great way to have them and two, I wasn’t keen on bringing fresh fish on a four hour drive without a cooler.  I think it was the safe choice.  I also had capers in our fridge (nonpareil of course) in case we needed those for the bagels.  Again, I am not a fan – too much in the olive family for my liking.  I was stocked up and ready for the bagel-bration.

People have been making bagels for centuries and legend has it that they come from 17th century Poland, although there is evidence of rolls with holes as far back as Egyptian times. It was the Jewish people from Poland that came up with the boiling before baking idea that makes the bagel so unique.  Boiling the bread allowed it to last longer because it gave the bread an outer sheen and a crunchy, protective crust.  The name and roll-with-a-hole design comes as a tribute to King Jan Sobieski who did away with a 1496 decree that limited par-boiled bread production allowing the Jewish bakers to do their thing within the city walls.  When King Sobieski saved Austria from Turkish invaders, a baker made a roll in the shape of the king’s stirrup and called it a beugel (the Austrian word for stirrup).  That’s the legend (according to Joan Nathan at The Slate), although with all food history, there’s always questions on the validity.  When it comes to modern bagels, part of the rise of the bagel popularity has roots in New Haven.  Murray Lender was the son of a Jewish baker who had a good bagel business in the Elm City.  It was Murray that discovered the process for freezing the bagels so that they could be shipped and sold at super markets throughout the states.  Murray also came up with the idea of selling them in the polyethylene bags, stacked six high, to save space in stores.  He also realized that pre-slicing them would make them easier to eat, so Murray really changed the bagel game.  For any boy or girl that grew up in the New Haven area, a school field trip to the Lender Bagel factory was a rite of passage.  I can still smell the stifling aroma of boiling bread.  Nonetheless, I’m proud to be from a community that had such an impact on the success of bagels.

I always liked bagels growing up and of course being a native New Havener, my Mom would always pick a bag of Lender’s bagels up at the grocery store.  We would have ours with either butter or peanut butter.  I know, sacrilegious, right?  When I met Lola’s family, they introduced me to the true bagel experience.  They would take a bagel, toast it, then spread on the cream cheese and top it with a slice of fresh tomato and red onion.  They’d also layer on the fresh lox and sprinkle on some nonpareil capers (again, I’d skip this part).  A few grinds of fresh pepper would finish it off.  Now that was a bagel.  It was really a, “where ya been all my life?” moment.  From that point on, that’s the way I enjoy bagels.  That’s how I had mine today.

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They say New York bagels are the best.  Something to do with the water.  I’m not sure about that, but I will say Zabar’s makes a damn good one.  Maybe it was just the thrill of being at Zabar’s that made it special, but it did seem, …well, special.  We have good bagel options around here.  Bagel Brothers is the leader in the clubhouse.  Clement’s Market sells a good one too (from Bristol Bagel Works).  But having bagels from New York City made our celebration that much better.  We went with poppy seed bagels and everything bagels.  That’s all you need.  This was a great little meal as always.  I love adding the fresh pepper too – it kind of brings it all together.

Speaking of New York City, I can tell you now what my exciting news was that I hinted about yesterday.  Lola and I scored tickets to Saturday Night Live this Saturday.  It was so random.  Last week while I was perusing things online, SNL tweeted out a contest.  They said tell us why you are our biggest fan and somebody would win tickets.  I made a quick top ten list of reasons why and sent it off.  Took me all of five minutes and I didn’t think much about it after that.  Then suddenly on Wednesday, I got an email saying I won.  I was in disbelief.  The email looked a little weird, but after some research, I think that’s how it goes.  But this was unbelievable.  A true bucket list moment.  I ran to the kitchen to tell Lola who had a similar reaction.  What a week to be there too!  Alec Baldwin will be hosting and Ed Sheeran is musical guest.  Plus there are all kinds of internet speculation and hope that Rosie O’Donnell will be there too. That would be epic.  We’re really excited.  Going to New York again wasn’t in our plans, but sometimes, you have to roll with the changes.  I’ll be sure to report on how it goes.

So that was National Bagel Day.  One that brought us fresh New York bagels with a side of Thunder Snow.  It actually was a pretty bad storm.  The wind was whooping and a whomping.  All our windows were covered in snow.  But when it came to an end, we were left with a beautiful white landscape which you should always take a moment to appreciate.  The snow was clean and white and spread across the terrain, not unlike a smear of cream cheese across a bagel.  See what I did there?  IN both cases, it was a beautiful site to see.  Cheers (or maybe mazel tov would be more appropriate)!

Next Up: National Cream Cheese Brownie Day 

UPDATE:
Ok, after posting, I had a few people ask about seeing my top ten list, so I thought I’d share it with you.  Lola thinks I was picked because it was funny.  I think it was more random.  I think I got picked as one name from a pile of emails they received.  They have nearly two million followers on Twitter, so I can’t imagine someone going through all their entries, stopping at mine and saying, let’s get this guy in here. Nonetheless, here was my list.  Maybe it pushed me in the right direction.

Why am I the biggest fan? Because of these ten reasons:

  1. My goldfish are named Chris Kelly, Paula Pell and Lorne Michaels.
  2. Favorite cast member: Anthony Michael Hall (that’s how long I’ve been watching)
  3. The theme song to “What Up With That?” was my wedding song.
  4. I once followed Fred Armisen all the way to New Jersey. Don’t worry, not a stalker. It wasn’t actually him.
  5. Even the name Leslie Jones makes me giggle.
  6. I always answer the door hoping that Tina Fey is making a cameo.
  7. You should see my SNL commemorative thimble collection.
  8. I think Kate McKinnon and my wife will be friends someday. In fact, we set a place for her at our table every night.
  9. Honestly, I think SNL is the place where the dreams of every funny kid can fly.
  10. If you pick me, you can have all my Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons in perpetuity.

So there you have it.

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