Living in the Big Bagel

By Dalla Coulibaly


Fantastic, amazing New York… With its beautiful skyscrapers, its amazing subway system and of course their bagels. I just want to say that if you don’t love bagels, you are free to leave this page -immediately.

I’ve been for almost a week and I had a bagel every day: a bagel a day keeps the doctor away? If it’s not for my health, bagels do make me feel warm and happy with its hot chewiness and delicious flavors. The first one I tried was my favorite. Near my Airbnb was a little and very cozy café the bagels were cheap, the aroma of coffee beans was pregnant. I couldn’t choose but I settled for a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and raspberry jelly.

Holy heaven on earth…. The first bite sent me outer space. All the flavors mixed in my mouth and my body just melted to the floor. I discovered bagel, true happiness on the tip of my tongue; I almost cried. But happiness is not everlasting, the taste of paradise was as ephemeral as a snowflake.

Day two, I had this savory bagel and honestly? Wasn’t that bad but the memory of that delicious cream cheese and jelly bagel lingered in my mind. Least to say I was disappointed. The day after, I couldn’t resist and went again to the little café and yeah, it was still heaven on earth, I had to have another bite. And I did. Do I have any regrets? No.

The days that followed, I had to leave the neighborhood and I almost had a food-motional breakdown: what should I do without these deliciously vicious sneaky bagels? Thank god, we live in New York City, in Manhattan so we could find bagels literally EVERYWHERE. For four days I roamed Park Avenue, Madison Avenue and E 39th and 31st street to find a bagel worthy of my gourmet palate.

I think it was easier to find the Holy Grail. It’s hard to find a good bagel. Eating a bagel, a good bagel is like doing the (almost) impossible: sometimes bagel is bad, or there’s too much spread, sometimes not enough, or the waiter can mess up your order… The possibilities of eating a bad one are endless and Josh Ozersky agrees with me. In an article published in the times, he said: “You have to poach them carefully and then let them proof for 10 hours on wooden trays. And even then, there’s no guarantee that they will be good because the mix of malt and salt and yeast requires years of practice to get right and acts differently depending on the weather, the water, and other variable conditions.”

He wailed that the bagel became popular at the cost of everything that makes it genuine and good: “It advertised itself as a symbol of everything that it no longer was.” And after eating my first divinely delicious bagel and the not so good ones that followed, that assertion made a whole lot of sense.

Bathing in the memory of my first ever-tasted bagel, I’m writing these words to save you from a disappointing bagel rendez-vous while staying in New York. FYI, the little café is called Bedford Hill Coffee Bar, you better try it!