When I first moved from Brooklyn to north of Boston in 1971, I lived in the far north, near the New Hampshire line. The only thing even called a bagel was frozen in the supermarket. People had never even heard of bagels there and then. On trips to Brookline, we found Kupels bagels and wsould bring them back just like we did when we returned to NY.
I'm happy to say that Kupels is still in business and I can walk there now. The lines are Sunday mornings are out the door.
In Boston, you can't get a decent bagel at night. It's a breakfast and lunch food. In brooklyn, we wouldgo out on saturday nights and buy the Sunday paper and adozen bagels. Can't do that here.
Back when T&MW still had an office, a co-worker who lives in Boston's distant western suburbs claimed that a local bakery had supurb bagels and challenged me to prove otherwise. I brought in a dozen from Rosenfeld's and she brought in a dozen from the far west. At the end of the day. All Rosenfeld's were eaten and the her's just got stale.
New York Vs. Montreal bagels: My daughter will be visiting Montral this summer and I'm sure there will be Montreal bagels for all to eat.
I do recall visting a bagel bakery in Toronto, but it's been about 8 years.
New Yorkers will claim that bagels made outside of NYC can't possibly be as good. But they say that about Pizza, Chinese food, Italian food, Deli, and so on. To them, if it's different than NY, it can't possibly be as good.
Have you read Save the Deli? I have asigned copy. The author, David Sax, is from Toronto.
The discussion of bagels during Passover could be considered sacriligeous, but since bacon has been brought into the conversation it has upped the ante considerably.
I grew up in a dim outpost of the British empire in deepest darkest Africa (David may take exception) and despite the fact that my father was from Latvia and my mother from Israel (of Polish/Russian parents) I didn't know from bagels. Lox was a rarity in landlocked Zimbabwe, but I had been acquainted with the delicacy.
My introduction to bagels was at the bus terminal in Tel Aviv where they were sold by hawkers dangling on hooks (the bagels, you understand). They were not the toroid shape (I was going to say donut (or doughnut), but that might trigger the debate- which came first: the bagel or the donut?) but much more like the New York preztel and slathered in salt.
When I moved to Johannesburg, the bagels were much more traditional and certainly lacking in North America innovation, being available as just plain.
When I say there are different types of bagels, I am not talking about poppy seed/ sesame of even (shudder) chocolate chip, raisin or cinnamon. I am talking about texture.
Today bagel is more associated with the shape, but the dough varies widely from light bread-like (ugh) to dense and moist. Purists insist that bagels must be boiled, but even then there are different schools of tradition. I believe the two pirincipal techniques are known as Montreal style and New York style.
Like certain Yiddish words, bagels have now become pervasive throughout US and Canada, even in places that have had no contact with Jews. From frozen packages in the supermarket to breakfast at Denny's in Texas, they are now part of our culture.