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Bagel Wars!

The New York-Montreal deathmatch

by
Marc Tracy
December 02, 2009

“New York bagels versus Montreal bagels” is one of those Beatles-vs.-Stones-type questions for which the answer “either one” is simply unacceptable. The New York Times’s City Room blog delves in to the debate, exposing what makes these two delicacies so different, and trying to settle, once and for all, which is better. For the tragically uninitiated, Montreal bagels are thinner (half the weight), crisper (baked in wood-burning ovens), and sweeter (boiled in water and honey) than their gigantic, doughy, and salty New York City counterparts. Both variants originated among the cities’ Jewish communities, although the Montreal bakers claim their version is truer to the Old Country antecedent. So which is better? City Room quotes partisans of both sides. (Food writer and Tablet Magazine contributing editor Mimi Sheraton reps NYC: “I thought they were horrible,” she says of Montreal’s.) A quick taste test at the Times office heavily favored the paper’s hometown. An impromptu, informal poll here at Tablet’s (Manhattan) office produced the same result.Still, you are cheating yourself if you do not at least give both a try. A bagel by any other name would taste just as sweet. But apparently a bagel by the same name can taste delightfully salty.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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