The (decidedly not blind) Bagel Taste Test

I do not love my job, but I enjoy being at work. Many of my co-workers are native New Yorkers, even more are Jewish, and all are friendly, passionate, and have a sense of humor. Together we weather the constant frustrations, failures, malfunctions, and bureaucratic impasses sustained by a division straddling two institutions who like to think their marriage works. Like the counselor forced to breach their divide, we desire to strangle them both, but hope that calming words and a little pressure will ensure enough satisfaction so that they pay the bill at the session’s end.

The reality on the ground, the daily by-product of the aforementioned rocky marriage, is that I spend many days alone in the office, save an administrator or two. We often eat lunch together, joined by the rare straggler who decides they can work that day without the vast majority of the internet (blocked) and no access to a shared drive or database (as of yet, unprovided). Last week found myself, M. and L. gathered around a small table in the break room.

M. grew up on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, the youngest daughter in a large Italian family. Her oldest daughter is only three years my junior. L. grew up on Long Island, in a predominantly Jewish community, and now lives on the Lower East Side… what once was a predominantly Jewish community. They both know bagels.

I, however, went to college eight blocks away from a bagel shop that consistently ranks in the top three of all (actually blind) taste tests. Eating such fine bagels, such superior cream cheese, turns a girl into a total bagel snob. So I challenged my co-workers to conduct a blind taste test, assuming they would just capitulate and agree, yes, my bagels probably were the best, most likely.

Unfortunately for my commute, but rather fortunate for my appetite, they took me up on the challenge. Yesterday morning, I rode the train 70 blocks in the wrong direction to spend 23 dollars on a baker’s dozen and a half pound of schmear. Arriving only 15 minutes late, I was disappointed to find the office empty. Consoled by an everything with veggie cream cheese, I waited out the competition.

Some competition! Ess-a-bagels left my jaw cramping. David’s Bagels proffered up a promising crust, but fell short of the mark with their doughy insides. M.’s bagels from Yonkers put up quite a fight, but the consensus agreed: Absolute Bagel’s everything bagel with veggie cream cheese would not disappoint even the most hardened connoisseur.


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