The bagel—like pizza, egg creams, and the dirty water hot dog—is an iconic New York City food.
It’s probably true that the breadstuff has seen better days; just look around at the bagel shops of modern-day NYC and you will (mostly) find gargantuan balls of doughy fluff. But, the traditional, old-school NYC bagel is a thing of beauty.
Common knowledge holds that New York bagels taste better because of the water that goes into them. But Travel Channel host Rob Pralgo is here to debunk this common misconception. In the video above, he explains that a lot more goes into a perfectly chewy, tender, and flavorful bagel than just quality H20. Pralgo says,
The secret lies in the fermentation process. New York bagel makers (if they’re legit, anyway) ferment their dough in wood containers overnight. During that long fermentation, the yeast is allowed to work its magic and create flavor compounds that lend the bagels their signature taste. The dough is then boiled and baked in an oven. The result? The ultimate New York bagel, complete with crispy exterior and warm, chewy inside.
Roberta vet and bagel expert Melissa Weller explains,
Retarding is a process in which a baker uses refrigeration to control and slow down fermentation, which Pralgo and Weller both agree is the key to superior bagels.