dimanche 7 septembre 2014

WOULD A BIALY BY ANY OTHER NAME TASTE THE SAME? A BIALY IS NOT A BAGEL!

WOULD BIALY BY ANY OTHER NAME TASTE THE SAME?  A BIALY IS NOT A BAGEL

I was recently engaged in one of our long conversations with my dear friend Dr W of Miami, at Bagel Bar in North Miami. We talked about Bagels and then I mentioned to him about Bialys.
When he asked me the difference, I thought of an old anecdote I had heard when I was growing up in Melbourne, Australia
If Bagel went to University to study, you could say Bialy went to the Yeshiva.

Melbourne was home to a lot of exiles from Bialystok in Eastern Poland (some of them would say, Russian Border!) after Germans marched into the predominantly Jewish City of Bialystok in 1939. I remember hearing about Bialystocker Landsmanschaft, much like the village associations we have in Miami of Cubans who left Cuba (of course under different circumstances) to get together and eat and reminisce about the land and the culture, talk in Yiddish and eat some of the favourite food of that region.
BIALYS FROM KOSSAR'S IN GRAND STREET, LOWER EAST SIDE, NEW YORK CITY, USA 

The yeshiva-bucher, Bialy is Jewish whereas the University educated Bagel was more like an American Jewish Mix, devoured by both Poles and the Jews.
Now the question is, can you get a Bialy in Miami?
Or in the United States for that matter?
A little research revealed (thank G-d for Internet) that the Bialy is no more in its birthplace which paradoxically now host a café called New York Bagels!
video


Go back to those lazy Sunday wanderings along Acland Street in St Kilda in Melbourne, where my encounter with Bialy began. Now once again the search begins.
ACLAND STREET OF SUCH GOOD MEMORIES, LUNA PARK WOULD BE ON YOUR RIGHT 

Good Place to look for a Bialy might be
New York
Buenos Aires
Melbourne
I would have added Cape Town to that list, but most of the Jews in South Africa are Litwaks and they came before 1939! So they may not have been exposed to the delicacy of a Bialy.
Kossar’s Bialy I am told is an institution in New York’s Lower East Side in Grand Street and one of the last places where they sell Bialys! If New York cannot support Bialy bakeries in every corner, misfortune has fallen upon us, unless of course there is a renaissance of Bialy making and eating in America.
But I am certain, that in Melbourne, Australia one can still get a good Bialy!
Bagel is now as American as Nova Lox or shall we say as American as a Fajita?
But Bialy is not a Bagel!
From Tablet Magazine:
While bagels have become a standard part of the American—for Jews and non-Jews alike—the bialy, the bagel’s relative in the Polish bread world, has seen a steady decline in popularity. One of the few places in the world (perhaps the only place, claim its owners) where true, traditional bialy-making survives is Kossar’s Bialys on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
“The bialy, which comes from Bialystok, Poland, is a lost bread of a lost world,” explained David Zablocki, who purchased Kossar’s a year ago with Evan Giniger and a third partner who has since sold his stake. “If you were to go to Bialystok today you would find no remnant of that bread or the people who made it.”
That’s why Zablocki says, “The bialy is an endangered species.”
“Even within its own environment, within its own culture, it is becoming less and less known, less understood,” he told me in a recent interview. “Most people who do a bialy today use the same ingredients and the same kitchen as they do for bagels, and although bialys and bagels are cousins, they’re not twins; they can’t survive on the same equipment and ingredients.”
To begin with, bialys are just baked, not boiled and baked like bagels, and the ingredients are different. “A bialy has no fat, it’s got no sugar in it of any kind, it’s not fried, and it doesn’t have any oil,” Zablocki said. “It is a pretty healthy bread, designed to be eaten fresh and to be eaten daily, while a bagel is loaded with calories.”
For Zablocki, preserving the bialy—which he describes as a “Jewish English muffin”—is about more than just keeping a convenient alternative to the bagel alive; it’s about saving a link to the past. It may sound dramatic, but he’s not the only one who thinks that way. New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton begins her nonfiction book The Bialy Eaters (one of the only works in the bialy literary canon) with a quote from Samuel Pisar, a Holocaust survivor and prominent lawyer who marveled as a group of ethnically diverse workers ate bialys: “To each of them, it was simply a tasty snack. How could they know they were partaking of something sacred—a bread that evoked the bittersweet memories of a cultured and tragic corner of Eastern Poland?”

Nice to think of these things, like the title of the book by A Vanished World by Roman Vishniac, this Sunday morning sitting at the home of my sister in Miami, after being fed that non Jewish of all delicacies from Jamaica: Ackee and Saltfish, Bammy and Festival.
ACKEE AND SALTFISH, BAMMY

                                   
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אַפּעטיט

This blog dedicated to my good friends Dr W and Auntie G
Food Friendship and Schmooze, a beezl wine!