When I was a kid, I had heard of bagels — had this vague knowledge of them as some kind of Jewish thing, part of the bagels-and-lox combo — but I never actually ate one until age 22, when I was working at the Circle K on 14th and Monroe in Corvallis.
That job was, by far, the low ebb of my working life — way lower than even the swing-shift parking lot attendant gig I had the summer before my last year in college. (A highlight of my life, btw, remains the day a regular customer at the lot, a woman about the age I am now, told me, “You’re the best parking lot attendant we’ve ever had.”)
Anyway, while the Circle K job was altogether dreadful, a lone positive was that it exposed me to the world of bagels; the store sold a few varieties of them and, starving one day while on the job, I bought a cinnamon-raisin specimen, popped it in the microwave and was hooked.
Over the next few years — thankfully beyond words, only a few months of that were spent at Circle K — I regularly ate a cinnamon-raisin bagel or two for breakfast. Then I started eating honey and/or whole wheat bagels, using them for cheese sandwiches that featured a slice of Cheddar and another of Swiss.
These “cheese bagels,” as I call them, have been the primary staple of my diet over the last 20 years; I probably eat an average of 10 of them per week, maybe more.
The problem is, everytime I find a brand I like, something happens to it.
Years ago, I favored Val’s Bagels. Made in Clackamas, they were the best I’ve ever eaten, but I guess I was in the minority because the company went out of business.
I ate store-made varieties from both Safeway and Winco until they changed how they baked them and rendered them unappealing to me (I like them dense, with a small to nonexistent hole, and never, ever overbaked).
I’ve tried a number of other producers as well, but invariably the way they make their bagels deteriorates over time and I have to try something else.
The last batch I tried were so bad I ended up feeding the bagels to my goats (they loved them, incidentally).
In conclusion, I’m just about ready to take all of this as a sign that I should find something else to occupy the core spot in my daily dietary intake.
What do you think?