Sunday, November 11, 2012

In praise of the Montreal bagel

The perfect meal
Laval, QC
August 2012

Growing up in Montreal was a good thing for me on so many levels. I got to learn what truly diverse cultures, languages and communities looked like on a day-to-day basis. I enjoyed some of the most entertaining (read insane) political discourse on the continent. And, most importantly, I learned how to eat well.

Montrealers don't simply eat to survive. It isn't merely a nutrition thing for them. Food is an integral part of life, an essential ingredient of that difficult-to-define sense of joie-de-vivre that makes this place so different from any other. Against that backdrop, the humble bagel you see here is more than just a roll with a hole in it. It's a critical part of the city's identity.

When we visit family, we always load up the car with bagels and other goodies from the local bakery before we point ourselves west and cruise the 401 back into the relatively milquetoast landscape of Ontario. Not that we don't appreciate our adopted home, but it simply can't hold a candle to Montreal's history of turning otherwise unassuming dishes into cultural celebrations. In comparison, London is kinda whitebread. It tastes OK, but you don't look forward to it like you do that lovely taurus-shaped thing pictured above.

As we continue to share what's-for-dinner-themed pics (click here if you haven't gotten yours in), I realize you may wonder why I'm sharing a bagel here. Isn't that for breakfast? Or brunch? In a way, you're right. Bagels are probably most closely identified with earlier-in-the-day consumption. But in my hybridized world, some 730 km west of the only bakeries that know how to make these things the way they were intended to be made, anytime is a good time to enjoy a little taste of home.

Your turn: What foods remind you of your own hometown?


Cloudia said...

A great city!

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

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Joan said...

I'm amused that the reason I jumped to read this post was the bagel in the title. Bagels remind me of where I grew up, too, in North Miami Beach, FL, surrounded by a lot of diversity but with a hefty Jewish representation. I've never been to Montreal, but I'd be willing to bet the bagels from the little mom-and-pop shops I grew up with would be comparable. My mouth is watering now and I have nothing here in St. Louis, MO to quite satisfy it.

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

mmmmm...having been raised in NY...where they have the best pizza...AND bagels, i can say that bagels just aren't for breakfast anymore! ha.

there used to be little restaurant called The Bagel Nosh...i used to go there for lunch, not far from work...that's when i first realized ANYTHING goes good on a bagel!!

Ted Medzon said...

Having had bagels all over the world including at Tim Hortons, I can't wait to get to Montreal to stock up on either St. Viateur or Fairmount bagels.If you have the time check out Noreen Gilletz's book, Mean Lean/Yum, page 287 for a Montreal bagel recipe which is pretty good.

Hilary said...

Oh you have me drooling for a Montreal bagel. How I miss those. We've been able to get Montreal bagels on and off from various shops over the years, here in Mississauga. And believe it or not, they were available for about a year at Metro in Bowmanville (of all places) until recently. Sesame seeds only though. I'm craving a poppy seed bagel right now! Thanks a LOT, Carmi! ;)