Monday, November 12, 2007

Bagels for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Montreal, Canada

What is a bagel? Well, it's essentially a bread roll with a hole in it. However, it's the texture that makes it distinct. The outside is usually brown and slightly crispy. Once you bite inside, it's usually dense, chewy and doughy.

These bready bites come in a variety of flavours and are o
ften topped with seeds baked onto the outer crust. Legend has it that the bagel originated in Vienna, Austria. The story goes that in 1683 a (probably) Jewish baker wanted to thank the king of Poland for protecting his countrymen from Turkish invaders and celebrate victory in the Battle of Vienna. In order to do this he made a special bread roll in the shape of a riding stirrup, known as a 'Steigb├╝gel' in German. However, another theory is that the bagel originated in Krakow, Poland sometime earlier. There are historical references to women being given 'beygls' as a gift during childbirth. Bagels are still used by mothers as teething rings today.

The bagels popularity in Eastern Europe spread and eventually these bread rolls made their way to Russia where they were sold on strings and viewed as a symbol of good luck.

At the turn of the 20th century, Eastern European immigrants began pouring into North America and with them brought their recipes for bagels. Many settled in Canada and in 1919 Isabel Shlafman opened the first bagel bakery in Montreal in a lane just of the street which was at that time known as 'The Main'. Today this street is Saint-Lawrence Boulevard.

The bagels were rolled by hand and baked in a wood-fired oven, as they still are today in the bakery's present location on Fairmount Street which lent the bakery its name. The Original Fairmount Bakery officially opened for business in this spot in 1949 in what was a converted cottage housing the family above the shop. The family still runs the business today.

The bakery is open 24 hours and seven days a week. There are often queues out the door as customers line up to purchase the fresh bagels in flavours as diverse as sun-dried tomato and chocolate chip. Also on sale is a selection of accompaniments such as smoked salmon, tzaziki and cream cheese. Bagelicious!

Address: 74 Fairmount Street West, Montreal, Canada

Tel: (514) 272-0667

No comments: