It was today – a grey and basically drab morning.
Feeling a wee bit puckish coming out of the local subway, I went into our local bagel bakery for a toasted seven grain with butter. Butter, in the era in which I grew up, was The Great Beast: it was fattening, costly, and my Father used entirely too much of it when he cooked scrambled eggs (a simple trick, it took my brothers and I years to figure out why his scrambled eggs tasted better than our Mum’s) but as I’ve gotten older I’ve re-discovered its virtues, and while I use butter infrequently in my cuisine, when I do I use lots of it and thoroughly enjoy every bit. As a consequence, I now prefer a buttered bagel to its unctuous cream-cheese-schmeared relation.
Since I was hungry (I’d been at my son’s school for a lengthy meeting and hadn’t had any breakfast) I opened up the fragrant envelope which had been handed me by my favorite counter-girl, and took a first bite as I crossed Lexington Avenue. Passing in front of Lenox Hill Hospital, tilting forward so as to avoid dripping on my suit, I took another. The initial toasty crunch, the toothsome pull, and the encompassing butter finish of the warm gobbet was perfection. Pure and simple. I tried hard to savor every bite, and I felt lucky: there was still half left, and it was still warm, by the time I got to my desk.
My point is there’s no other city in the World in which you can have that exact experience.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a baguette in Paris, a Cornish pasty, or a Singapore noodle as much as anyone. I even love the Montreal bagel, flat and meager as it may at first appear to a native such as I. But the New York Bagel, properly made and hot from the oven, simply has no peer. I just think we should relish pleasures such as this, hold on to them tight, and as New Yorkers, cherish the fact that we live here.