Murray Lender, the man behind the company credited with introducing most Americans to bagels has passed away. Lender, born in 1930, helped turn his father's Connecticut bakery into a national bagel powerhouse, turning out 2.75 million Lender's Bagels a day, while never forgetting his roots. A Connecticut friend mentioned Lender's used to drop off green bagels for school children on St Patrick's Day.
For you bagel purists, Murray told the AP in 1986, "Taste is a very subjective matter. It's clear and simple: We make 2 3/4 million bagels a day. Obviously an awful lot of people are happy with it." Coincidentally, Consumer Reports' May issue features a bagel breakdown which honors Lender's Bagels as one of the best. This has not gone over well in New York.
Regardless of your feelings on Lender's Bagels, we probably wouldn't even be having the bagel argument without Murray Lender.
If I didn't know any better, I'd have thought Twitter was built specifically for the purpose of cracking wise about the lack of everything on the everything bagel. In recent months, several tweetists have taken to site to complain in often amusing fashion:
Come on, Everything Bagels, who you tryin' to fool? You got like 6 seasonings on there. That's a lot, but it ain't everything.
Hey everything bagel, you don't have everything on you, so shut the fuck up.
This "everything bagel" is great. Has onions, poppy seeds, garlic, cheese, q-tips, Greenland, fear, sandals, wolves, teapots, crunking...
You call this an everything bagel?! Where are the french fries & the pizza & the pot brownie & the Taco Bell fire sauce?!
Flossing after an everything bagel is important b/c as the name implies, you don't just have *something* in your teeth, you have every thing.
Last time I had an everything bagel I got poppy seeds, Mira Sorvino, and Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit all over my shirt.
The title "everything bagel" is a gross exaggeration.
The "everything bagel" really only has like three things. Just what I want for breakfast. Lies.
You might want to scale back on calling yourself an "everything bagel." I mean, right away I can see there are no M&M's on here.
Aaand that's about all there is to say about the everything bagel.
Why is New York-style pizza so difficult to replicate in other areas of the world? Perhaps the answer lies with NYC's legendary tap water.
"Water," Batali says. "Water is huge. It's probably one of California's biggest problems with pizza." Water binds the dough's few ingredients. Nearly every chemical reaction that produces flavor occurs in water, says Chris Loss, a food scientist with the Culinary Institute of America. "So, naturally, the minerals and chemicals in it will affect every aspect of the way something tastes."
Update: That legendary tap water was supposedly responsible for NYC-style bagels as well until Finagle A Bagel founder Larry Smith drove some Boston tap water to NYC and compared bagels made with the water from the two cities.
"There was absolutely no difference between them," Smith reported. "What makes the difference is equipment, process and ingredients."
Well, ingredients except water. (thx, darrin)
Update: Jeffrey Steingarten, among others, believes that temperature is the key to great pizza and that coal is the key to great temperatures. (thx, hillel)
Update: I knew we'd eventually end up on Slice...the web's premiere pizza site hosts an account of Jeff Varasano's attempt to reverse engineer a NYC pizza, specifically from the 117th St. Patsy's. Among his findings:
There are a lot of variables for such a simple food. But these 3 FAR outweigh the others:
1. High Heat
2. Kneading Technique
3. The kind of yeast culture or "starter" used along with proper fermentation technique
All other factors pale in comparison to these 3. I know that people fuss over the brand of flour, the kind of sauce, etc. I discuss all of these things, but if you don't have the 3 fundamentals above handled, you will be limited.