Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bagels for Suckers

The spirit of PT Barnum is alive and well in the Florida bagel maker who, not only claims that NYC water has special properties that enable NYer's to produce the best bagels in the US, but also claims to have duplicated Brooklyn water for bagel making, or not.

[Fassberg] says his water is actually better than the Brooklyn variety because he leaves out such less-than-desirable elements as lead and chlorine.

So, let me see if I can follow the logic of what this guy is claiming.

Brooklyn water makes the best bagels. To make the best bagels he uses water that is the same as Brooklyn water but leaves out lead, chlorine and any other things that might be in Brooklyn water that he thinks should not be there like protozoans, viruses, algae and their breakdown products.

So he doesn't really think it is necessary to duplicate Brooklyn water to make the best bagels. Hello! 

For the record. I believe that if NY bagels are good (and not all of them are, there are plenty of crappy bagels made in NYC) their quality is almost entirely the result of what is left out (sugar, dough conditioners etc) rather than what is put in, flour quality and superior mixing, proofing, boiling and baking technique. What water you use is not irrelevant, but it is far less important than the other ingredients and the process by which the bagels are made. The same is true for pizza -that other product of NYC whose quality is often attributed to the type of water used. 

When I was teaching Advanced Culinary Principles (a food science class) at CIA some of my students made bagels with water from Brooklyn, Miami, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.  A blind tasting turned up no significant differences among them.

11 comments:

Scotty said...

I find Chateau Erie County Water Authority works just fine with the bagels we make weekly when the girls get home from school.

They aren't the prettiest, but they are made with love!

Tags said...

Is it a surprise he's working the fertile fields of Bernie Madoff's old stomping grounds?

Frodnesor said...

How refreshing to see a little common sense coupled with empirical observation applied to this subject. I've tried the bagels from this place and while they're better than a cakey Einstein's "bagel" or something out of the freezer case, they're nothing special and certainly not the best bagel I've had even in South Florida. That honor would go Sage Deli in Hallandale, which bakes a nice dense chewy crusty bagel using whatever water is coming through the pipes.

Ryan said...

The fact you did the scientific work just tickles me pink. I learn more from this website than pretty much any other. Thanks for sharing with us.

natalie sztern said...

Okay now this is going to create an uproar....i happen to love 'american bagels' as opposed to my hometown bagels (montreal of course)...know why? Cause there is bite to an american bagel (the ones i have tasted being vermont, ny, chicago,maine)

Our bagels are too small and too sweet and one is never enough...

blasphemy!!

Bob del Grosso said...

Natalie

You got lucky with bagels in the US. They mostly suck eggs. Although I admit I've never eaten a bagel Canadienne.

natalie sztern said...

I could swear there was just a post calling me a canadienne talaiban.....anyway it is reversed in french so I am une talaiban canadienne...lol...YOU"VE NEVER EATEN A MONTREAL BAGEL!!!!

oh no we have to fix this....if u pay the fedex i'll treat the bagels cause u have to get them the same day...

Bob del Grosso said...

Natalie
There was an earlier post wherein I refereed to you as a Canadienne taliaban. But I took it down because I misspelled "Talaiban" and Blogger does not allow me to edit comments.

Please accept my apologies for for the confusion.

Carrie said...

I want to know how you got water from all over the east coast! LOL
Your food experiments are highly entertaining. You need to take over the crappy Food Detectives show on Food Network. You could be a mix between Alton Brown and Mr. Science. I would totally watch that show.

Bob del Grosso said...

Carrie
I did not get the water, my students did. They got it while they were home on Xmas break. Enterprising buggers.

natalie sztern said...

You should use wordpress like i am then u can have a nervous breakdown and a divorce like i am about to have...why did i go wordpress????