As a person who grew up in the beautiful area of the Northwest known as Portland, Oregon, the east coast (specifically the Northeast) was always an intriguing mystery to me. I had visited many tourist destinations such as Washington, DC and The Big Apple, but the East Coast lifestyle was something I was never fully exposed to until I began studying at Ithaca College.
The first interesting food-quirk I noticed among my peers from the northeast (specifically New York), and at Ithaca, was their undying love and appreciation for bagels. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that people on the West Coast are unfamiliar or dislike bagels in any sense, but people from the New York take bagels to a whole another level. I mean, have you seen the crazy Rainbow Bagel from Brooklyn?
For me, a bagel is a bagel. Of course, I enjoy eating some bagels more than others, but the wide variety of flavors, toppings, and sandwich combinations for bagels was uncharted territory for me (FYI, this is why New York bagels are so good).
The Wide World of NYC Bagels
In the second month of my freshman year at Ithaca College, I distinctly remember going to brunch with some friends on campus and I noticed that nearly every single one of them had a bagel. Yet, the most interesting thing to me was that none of them had the same kind of bagel, nor the same topping.
One of my friends had a plain bagel with butter, one had a cinnamon raisin with cream cheese and jelly, and another had an “everything” bagel with a heaping schmear of cream cheese so massive that it could’ve easily covered at least two other bagels.
Another fond bagel memory of mine was when I first went to Ithaca’s notorious bagel shop, Collegetown Bagels (AKA CTB). I was blown away by the number of bagel options they had on their menu.
They had everything from bagel breakfast sandwiches to pizza bagel, with each item on the menu yielding at least 10 options for the type of bagel and spread to put on it. To say I was dumbfounded about what to order would be an understatement. But I certainly was not the only one; my friend Sophia spent at least 15 minutes staring at the menu, simply deciding on whether she wanted a sweet or savory bagel.
The “Bagel Place”
One interesting aspect of New Yorkers’ love for bagels is that it seems as though everyone has their respective “bagel place” at home. For example, I visited three different friends over Thanksgiving break in Westchester, NY, and all of them had their own “bagel place” in each of their towns.
A “bagel place,” for those who are unfamiliar, holds a place of comfort and tradition in the hearts of New Yorkers, and is a destination that is absolutely necessary to visit whenever the opportunity arises.
I had never heard of anyone having a “bagel place” before; at home, I know where the bagel shops are, but I never personalized any of them to the point where I would refer to them as my “bagel place.”
To put this in perspective, the closest thing to a “bagel place” I have at home is the Starbucks near my house. Although I only went there growing up because it was on the way to school, I always preferred their muffins, and I never once ordered a bagel there. See my point?
For those West Coasters interested in moving to the Northeast for school, I must be incredibly clear: learn from my lack of knowledge about bagels and familiarize yourself with them before you make the move. I promise you will immediately fit int ten times better, and gain the Freshman 15 ten times faster. Bagel on.