Sunday, May 19, 2019

Montreal bagels for the win

Eat me
London, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I left Montreal for good almost half a lifetime ago, but the city still resonates in my soul for many reasons, many of them food-related. From poutine to smoked meat to Orange Julep to bagels, there's no shortage of foods that define this city and spark adamant debates between natives and non-natives alike.

I have little patience for foodie debates - and, if we're being brutally honest, I can't stand the word "foodie", and am amused by folks who refer to themselves as such - but I do admit missing Sunday morning walks to the bakery for freshly made Montreal bagels. There's nothing quite like walking into a bakery in winter when the wood-fired oven is churning out piles of black- and white-seed* confections and you have to wait a bit to nibble on them lest you burn your mouth. Bonus points if the place has been open since before your parents were born, and hasn't been renovated within your lifetime. The handwritten-in-black-Sharpie prices and frayed notes stuck on every shadowy shelf only add to the charm. But I digress.

These are not Montreal bagels. They're the antithesis of what made bakery runs special. The ones you see here are round rolls with holes in them, pre-fab creations of a national chain, with as much (sorry, little) charm as a soulless franchise can muster. There is no wood-fired oven here. Stories will never be written about these generically re-warmed impostors.

But here in London, it's what we've got. And when you have an opportunity to snag a quick photo while you wait for your lunch order to be ready, you take it. I may be far from my original hometown, but we've managed to create other traditions in our adoptive city that resonate just as strongly. In the end, all that matters is that each one of us knows where to look.

* Montrealers don't call them "poppy" or "sesame". It's how we can tell real Montrealers apart from posers.

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