Yelp tells me people haven't stopped caring about bagels, nor have they stopped comparing everything to New York, which is a gloriously imprecise statement in itself. Juicy!Read More
What we're dealing with here is a swift undercurrent of emotional and psychological reliance on bagels that manifests as passionate vociferation on soapbox platforms ranging from Yelp to your favorite armchair in addition to dedicated pursuit of good bagels in addition to dogged commitment to producing said bagels in addition to a proliferation of bagel shops around the country.
We also see that people have, for years, depended on "New York style bagels" as a supposedly savvy marketing tool, convenient in that it tapped into something customers would know, would associate with excellence, and would be drawn toward, even if only subconsciously. We could postulate that this hints at a tendency in people to see perfection in something "other," something not-them/ not-theirs, something exotic. The US bagel started in New York, and so it became the de facto king of the bagel. Someone started a rumor that it was because of the mineral composition of the water, and though this has been entirely unproven by the beloved, cherished, glorified, vague "Science," we the people have, on the whole, tended to believe it. Furthermore, we feel comfortable with a logic that says proximity to New York City makes one an expert on bagels, as evidenced by the not-uncommon statement along the lines of "I've lived in New York for twenty years, and I'm telling you, these are good bagels!" The statement says nothing of the person's tastebuds, or preferences, or neuron activity, or childhood circumstances, and yet, if we don't catch ourselves, we let ourselves be convinced.
We might also postulate that part of the dominance of the "New York bagel" has resulted from the widespread distribution of mass produced bagels that evolved into loopy pieces of dough that resembled a bagel only in shape. People's experience of "bagel" was of a bread not boiled, but baked and filled with whatever preservatives necessary to allow it to sit in its sad little plastic bag on the shelf of some grocery store, all grocery stores. All stores offering groceries. This is what you'd eat at the breakfast table, and this came to be known as Bagel in the social consciousness. The only point of reference strong enough to contrast with a bagel so defined was New York.
Further, we could postulate that people, broadly, are slow to change, and we like to have our comfortable, known world guiding us through whatever "adventures" we're, say, posting about on Facebook. We also can be exceedingly socially fluent, so that we know people's expectations and feel beholden to existing standards and are users of a common dialect. So, regarding the first, we depend on being able to compare this bagel in Homer, AK to what we "know," that is, to "New York." And as for the second, in a classic oratorical move, we aim to establish our credibility with the audience by showing them that we know the ideal (New York) and we understand how this one compares to it.
All the while, by the way, we've begun to talk about "New York bagels" as if they're a single, uniform outfit, all with the same chewiness, same crumb, same denseness, same seed-to-surface ratio, same boil time, same bake time, same proof time, same shaping method, same temperature, same oven, same baker, same size. Some still use "New York bagel" in its archetypal meaning, saying mostly that it's a thing boiled and baked, dense and chewy, with a shiny crust and a small size. But many talk about it in a more literal way, as if by experiencing any bagel made in New York one becomes a bagel expert, a bagel insider.
And then there's the classification of "non traditional" toppings and flavors, those that some see as an adulteration of the classic bagel and that stand in contrast to the poppyseed or the onion. But if certain historians are right, the bagel, from its European birth all the way through to its immigration to New York, was a plain brick of a thing, with no toppings whatsoever. Does that make plain the true traditional? And what if we really push ourselves and think of pre-bagelstoric times, when the ringed dough might have been a novelty in itself. In that possibly absurd vein of thought, we're consuming non-tradition regardless of the toppings. But suppose we go ahead and say that, at this point, there's an established topping tradition. And we ignore that it was established out of some arbitrarily bounded range of time. Why is there the implicit, and sometimes explicit, supposition that traditional is good and non traditional is bad? Why do some purveyors tout their bagel offerings as traditional, and why can they count on the fact that people will want to hear this, will be inclined to spend their money for it?
TDB could readily outline sub postulates for the above questions, if we wanted to.
But we don't. Always know when to walk away, I always say.
Also, a note on definitions. We are using Merriam Webster's definition of postulate (V): to suggest (something, such as an idea or theory) especially in order to start a discussion. Which is to say that we don't necessarily hold these as truths, and we're not giving a definitive opinion, and we're not supposing we know much of anything at all. We're just...postulating. Just...taking a broad sweeping view of the landscape. Just...twiddling our thumbs.
The /ˈyo͞oZH/, as some might say.
The bird lands on the stump!
The long and narrow, straightened arrow,
Bird's eye view of hawk unharrowed
I had to click through many Yelp pictures before I got to a bird's eye view of a bagel instead of a cross section of a bagel sandwich. Can I gather from this that the shop is more about the sandwich, less about the bagel?Read More