The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread

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Yale University Press, Nov 3, 2008 - Cooking - 241 pages
A “scrumptious little book” about the cultural and historical background of this humble and hearty treat (The New York Times).
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 rooted in 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. 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.
“Thought-provoking and fact-filled . . . Uses the bagel as a way of viewing Polish-Jewish history.” —The New York Times
“Gives readers plenty to chew on . . . Thoroughly entertaining.” —The Wall Street Journal

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User Review  - DieFledermaus - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - balbs - LibraryThing

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. Read full review


CHAPTER 1 The Family Tree
CHAPTER 2 Of Bagels and Kings
How the Bagel Lost its Worth but Kept its Value
CHAPTER 4 Bagel Polemics in an Independent Poland
The Immigrant Bagel and the Struggle for Workers Rights
The Story of Bagel Bakers Union Local No 338
CHAPTER 7 The Bagelising of America
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About the author (2008)

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.

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