I may have an unnatural relationship with bagels. Not all bagels, just a specific bagel from a specific place at a specific temperature and freshness. There is a debate in my city about which bagel is the "best bagel" and I confess to forming preconceived opinions about people who choose the "other" bagel place. I can't help but have a small distrust about their quality of taste and discretion, much the way i feel when someone announces that they don't "like animals". I can accept that there is a difference of opinion, but somewhere deep inside I may be thinking, if they err on this, what other bad decision making are they capable of? I can be their friend, put away the disdain, but I think it will always be there gnawing at me until one day they do something stupid and then it will leap to the surface with the thought.. makes total sense.. look at their choice of bagel.
I think I know where this love of bagel comes from. When I was a kid my mum used to take us to Arahovas for souvlaki (for you Montrealers, you now know which bagel side I am on). Many years ago Arahovas was just a hole in the wall, you had to wait at least half an hour for a table, which may or not be shared with people you may or may not have known. The garlic was intense. Every time my sister and I would clamour at the end of the meal. BAGELS!
We got along really well as siblings except for two points, whose turn it was to dry or wash the dishes and who got to hold the bag. Holding the bagel bag was the ultimate prize. We would wait for the dozen sesame seeds to be thrown into the paper bag, warm and steamy. It was the smell really. The smell of freshly baked bagels. I would sit in the back of the car, cuddling the warm moist bag, nose deep, sniffing. We would drive over the mountain, look at the city lights and head back to the west end of town and to bed. The smell was delicious and comforting and to this day transports me back to the magic of being 7 and out late for a special family meal.
There is a franchise of said bagel place in my neighborhood now. I go there on a weekly basis to pick them up, fresh from the wood burning oven. I tried to go whole wheat for a while, but my daughter, now almost 7, insists on the "good" ones, the white warm bag dampening ones. She is right so I comply. The thing is, I often find myself burying my nose into the nape of my daughter's neck, moist and warm and sniffing in the very same way as that fragrant paper bag, and it does the same thing for me . Makes me feel like home.