"¢Â First thing's first: What is a bagel? "A bagel is a round bread, with a hole in the middle, made of simple ingredients: high-gluten flour, salt, water, yeast and malt. Its dough is boiled, then baked, and the result should be a rich caramel color; it should not be pale and blond. A bagel should weigh four ounces or less and should make a slight cracking sound when you bite into it. A bagel should be eaten warm and, ideally, should be no more than four or five hours old when consumed. All else is not a bagel."
"¢Â If you've heard that old yarn about bagels being created in 17th-century Poland as a tribute to King Jan Sobieski after he saved Austria from Turkish invaders at the battle of Vienna in 1683, well ... it's a load of old toss. The origins came prior to this supposed event, and most experts agree that the origin of the word "bagel" probably came from the Yiddish beigen, to bend.
"¢Â But why bend it in the first place? The bagel may be a cousin of the pretzel, although its singular shape may also have helped those selling bagels to carry bunches of them on sticks.
"¢ Bagels come in about every variety one can dream up. From the well-known Everything Bagel to the "buzzed" bagel for when you need some caffeine with your caffeine in the morning. And let us not forget this likely first casualty of the recession: the $1,000 bagel (no, it doesn't have gold chips but it darn well should!)
"¢Â Hmmm, the greatest thing since sliced bread might be ... a sliced bagel! Lender's popularized the sliced bagel, and eventually came out with a frozen variety as well. Today some bagels are so hardy they can even survive space.
"¢Â Do you love bagels? I mean really, really love bagels? Seriously now ... LOVE BAGELS? Apparently you can turn your face into one.
"¢ But what's a bagel without cream cheese? Cream cheese was discovered accidentally in 1872 by a New York dairyman trying make Neufchatel. It was originally packaged in foil just as it can be found today.
"¢ For those who don't relish (or are too lazy to) schmear, there is now the option of the cream cheese-filled bagel.
"¢ Finally, in case you were wondering: could eating poppyseed bagels make you fail a drug test? Yes!
"¢ You know what comes next: how do you Flossers most enjoy your bagels? Nothing is better to me than a whole wheat bagel generously schmeared with cream cheese and lox, lox and more lox!
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