If smoked salmon and cream cheese bring only one thing to mind, you can count yourself among the world’s millions of bagel mavens. But few people are aware of the bagel’s provenance, let alone its adventuresome history. This charming book tells the remarkable story of the bagel’s journey from the tables of seventeenth-century Poland to the freezers of middle America today, a story of often surprising connections between a cheap market-day snack and centuries of Polish, Jewish, and American history.
Research in international archives and numerous personal interviews uncover the bagel’s links with the defeat of the Turks by Polish King Jan Sobieski in 1683, the Yiddish cultural revival of the late nineteenth century, and Jewish migration across the Atlantic to America. There the story moves from the bakeries of New York’s Lower East Side to the Bagel Bakers’ Local 388 Union of the 1960s, and the attentions of the mob. For all its modest size, the bagel has managed to bridge cultural gaps, rescue kings from obscurity, charge the emotions, and challenge received wisdom. Maria Balinska weaves together a rich, quirky, and evocative history of East European Jewry and the unassuming ring-shaped roll the world has taken to its heart.
|Publisher:||Yale University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Maria Balinska is editor of BBC Radio’s World Current Affairs department, and a journalist and documentary maker specializing in Eastern Europe and the United States. She lives in London.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I agree totally with messpots.... the historical perspective is fascinating but .the author doesn't think enough about readers drawn to an interesting subject who need some background as well.
This short history of bagels can be interesting but nothing to write home about. The author describes various ring-shaped breads that are boiled and baked then moves on to possible origins of the bagel in central Europe. She describes bagel myths such as the relation of the bagel to Polish King Jan Sobieski and the appearance of the bagel in songs and stories. The history of the bagel is a history of bakers as well as the history of the Jewish community. In America, the bagel starts out as an immigrant food and Balinska describes in detail the powerful bakers¿ union in New York. The final chapters deal with the mass marketing of the bagel. Balinska has clearly done a lot of research and much of the history is interesting even if sometimes the topic moves far from bagels. She pretty much stays only in Poland though ¿ surely there must have been important events in bagel history in other countries. There was perhaps too much on union politics. The chapter on the Americanization of bagels is the best ¿ first several technical developments had to happen (machines to make the bagels, frozen bagels for transport), then Balinska describes the promotion and distribution of the bagel. It was fun to see some early articles describing what exactly a bagel was. The last chapter describes the life of the bagel in Canada and the U.K. as well as a common concern about which bagels are authentic.
The history of the Bagel I found very interesting, not knowing where it had originated. The author's description and how it all started I found very intriging. The author also included history of the country where it all started and how it became so popular in the United States. I would recommend this to anyone interested in a variety of foods.