East Side Story

November 17, 2008


We kind of knew it ever since we moved to New York, but now it’s official:

Bagels, the most popular breakfast in New York City, came here all the way from Poland. It was brought to our attention yesterday, while watching “Laurel’s Canyon”, a mediocre movie that has a character in it who speaks with non-descript, Eastern European accent. By the end of the movie we find out that she comes from the country where bagels were first baked. “She’s Polish!” – we shouted, happy to solve the mystery. To which people around us said surprised: “So bagel came from Poland? We didn’t know that.” Now, thanks to Slate’s writer we can trace the history of a roll with a hole back to 17-th century Krakow.

As the story goes, Poland of 1683 was the breadbasket of Europe, and King Jan III Sobieski was the first king not to confirm the decree limiting the production of white bread to the Krakow bakers guild. This meant that Jews could finally bake bread within the confines of the city walls. Furthermore, when Sobieski saved Austria from the Turkish invaders, a baker made a roll in the shape of the king’s stirrup and called it a beugel (Austrian for stirrup).

Even though nobody can prove anything, and some people think the story of bagel origins are fictional, we like the legend and we’re sticking to it. Plus, we might have to go to Kossar’s Bialys to indulge in a yummy, doughy goodness (they have the best stuff in the whole tri-state area).