Ok, this isn’t about the Bigul (adjacent picture) that is played during army parades, I’m talking about Bagels – the donut shaped bakery products hugely popular in Europe and America.
Until today morning, I hadn’t eaten a bagel (I was a Bagel-virgin). I am generally fascinated by bakery products – cookies, muffins, cakes etc. There was this Bagel shop I passed by every morning and naturally I got attracted to it.
Toronto is usually laid back except for the morning rush hour which is very Mumbai style. So the maximum time I take to zoom past the shop was 3.2 seconds, grossly insufficient to see what was inside. Determined to investigate, last week I paused in front of it just to get a better look
“Hey there, good morning”, yelled the lady behind the counter in a machine-like tone.
“I’m just looking”, I said defensively. (Somehow I feed odd to browse or window shop)
She nodded and I started checking out. The smell was good (I’m talking about the shop, not the lady). There were round bread-like donut type objects of different shapes and colors. I looked at the price – “Single Bagel – $ 0.85.” Was it that cheap? Awesome!
Incidentally I woke up late today and couldn’t afford to eat breakfast. So I went to the shop and asked for a bagel.
“Bagel? Sure, what kind?” the lady said (another one today, this one had a thick Turkish accent)
“Ugh… any kind” I looked around clueless.
She simply stared at me.
“Raisin Cinnamon” I quipped (I am attracted to both).
Then she asked me something that I didn’t understand. I asked her to repeat twice. Finally she went to a toasting machine and pointed at it:
“Bagel Toast or no Toast”
“Aha! Yes Toast please” I was satisfied. She let out a grunt (probably thinking – ‘these, foreigners… can’t they learn anything before coming here?!’)
Then there was this Chinese girl in the subsequent counter. She was saying something which I didn’t understand so I presumed it was for someone else and I conveniently ignored her. After about a minute of shouting and yelling with gestures, I figured out she was indeed talking to me.
“What toppings?” (totally different accent)
I gave her the most puzzled look I ever sported. I thought a bagel was something like a cake or a muffin.
“umm.. anything…”, I looked around to find an array of meat boxes and some green stuff in a corner, “Anything veggie please” (I had no intent of eating raw meat)
“Ok Lettuce? Tomato? Cucumber? What else?”
“Olives, Pickles, cheese – no not the slices, give me this shredded one” I said. This was getting confusing. What exactly was a bagel? a sandwich?
“And honey-mustard sauce, salt and pepper” I spoke like an expert.
“Here you go” she handed me a neatly wrapped pack
I proceeded to pay, but it was at the other end of the shop attended by a huge African girl.
The receipt read $4.10
“WHAT!!??” That was the scream inside my head. Thankfully I stopped converting everything to Rupees, else I’d have fainted. Externally, I just smiled at her while swearing never to come here again.
“No card, only cash” she said pointing to some obscure note on the counter. (She reminded me of Hidimba)
I paid, grabbed the change and escaped back into the crowd. Phew!
The first thing I did at work was to read what a Bagel was.
Wikipedia says: “A bagel is a bread product traditionally made of yeasted wheat dough in the form of a roughly hand-sized ring which is boiled in water and then baked. The result is a dense, chewy, doughy interior with a browned and sometimes crisp exterior. Bagels are distinct from the similarly shaped doughnuts and from the similarly textured bialys, primarily because of the cooking method amongst other differences.”
PS: This story is so unlike me. I generally don’t do anything unplanned, unresearched.