I grew up on bagels. When I was a baby, my grandma gave
me frozen bagels to cut my teeth on. When I was 7, every birthday party I went
to started with bagels. The morning after my high school prom, we went out for
bagels. Most Saturday mornings began with my beloved “Once upon a Bagel” deli.
Upon seeing the owner, I said a prayer to make me his daughter so I could get
bagels for free! (This dream never came true, but he did give me a free t-shirt
For a Jewish girl from Chicago, bagels are an extremely
important part of my culture and my soul. These flawless pieces of bread
defined my childhood. When deciding whether or not to eat a bagel, this thought
process was instilled in my mind from an early age. Are you sad? Go eat a
bagel. Going through a break-up? Go talk smack with your friends in a deli over
some bagels and schmears. Do you just need to experience old Jewish men
fighting about the Cubs? Go eat a bagel!
Upon moving to Wisconsin, my local deli with authentic
bagels has become but a memory and a freezer full of bagels from home, which I
don’t eat unless I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown or my friend just
fixed my flat tire.
Now this brings me to my next point. Wisconsin, it’s
time for a heart to heart. I’m going to just be honest. Your bagels are horrible.
I’m going to give a quick background on bagels to help
define what makes one truly authentic. The word bagel comes from the Yiddish
“beygel,” itself taken from the German “beugel,” meaning ring or bracelet.
Eastern European immigrants arriving to the United States brought the bagel
with them to the Lower East Side of New York where they were baked and sold on
the streets stacked on sticks.
Now for the anatomy of the perfect bagel. Bagels are
not the rubbery steamed imposters that I have experienced throughout this
state. A real bagel is made of simple ingredients: high-gluten flour, salt,
water, yeast and malt. Its dough is boiled, then baked, and the result should
be a caramel color, not pale and blonde. A bagel should weigh four ounces or
less and should make a cracking sound when you bite into it, not a whooshing
So now tell me, Wisconsin—how and why are your bagels
so big? They tend to be seven ounces at least (which is more than twice the
size of what a real bagel should be). The Union of Bagel Craftsmen (this is a
real thing) is going to come after you, Wisconsin.
All I am asking is that you think before you bake. So
this is my battle cry—let’s protest the Wisconsin bagel!
Time: When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter
aligns with mars. Our fight songs: “Let the Circle be Unbroken” and The Girl
Scout Friendship Circle song.