The Montreal New York bagel debate is essentially about who makes the best bagel. I never even knew there was such a thing until I heard Dave 1 from Chromeo discussing this with the people at It’s The Real Podcast. All I ever cared about when it came to bagels was only to get my hands on my fav, the gravlax bagel. From what I heard on the podcast episode, you kind of have to choose between one of them and stick to your guns forever. It’s like the dichotomy film buffs in France have over Ingmar Bergman versus Carl-Theodor Dreyer. And that my friends, sure is a serious matter.
This intrigued me. Was the New York bagel the only one have to consider? I put my best research tools to work, (Googled it) and got back some facts. But before going deep into the East Coast Bagel Bravado Battle (see what I did there?), it’s only right that I break down both bagel styles. I do so in the name of context. You know, what makes them so special to the point that you might get hurt if you say something slick at the wrong place.
Montreal-style bagel explained
In essence, the Montreal bagel is small and lean. A little denser and sweeter than the NYC one, and usually baked in an oven under a wood fire after being boiled in honey-sweetened water. The hole on the bagel is also larger in comparison. The bagel (or as they call it in Montreal – le bagel) contains malt and sugar, but no salt whatsoever.
Two main varieties are the poppy seed bagel (black-seed) or the sesame seed bagel (white seed).
New York-style bagel explained
While the Montreal bagel contains no salt, the New Yorkers sure like to salt it up. And you know what rhymes with salt? Malt. So the salty and malty NYC bagel gets boiled in water before getting baked in a standard oven, making the bagel slight puffy with a moist crust.
In comparison, the Montreal bagel is crunchier and sweeter. The overall physique of the Montreal one is smaller, although its hole is larger. Now, I see that people say that the New York bagel are the best because the quality of the water is better. I have no idea, but how can a huge city like New York have cleaner water than the cute little city of Montreal? The debate is for sure alive on that one.
Why Montreal Wins The Bagel Beef
First of all, let’s think for a second about what all the noise is about. Why the beef, people? Both bagels are still derivative of the O.G. Bajgiel anyway, so if anyone should be pissed off here it sure is the Polish. So… is it rooted deeper than just who makes the best bagels? There must be some kind of East Coast thing here, where the battle of being the coolest city in the East has somehow gotten smitten over to the bagel world. It’s Chromeo versus Cam’Ron.
But the key is in the details.
The smaller Montreal version of the bagel makes it sleeker by default. The boiling of the bagel in sweetened water is a stroke a genius. When you think of the New York bagel in its over-sized, brute shape, it kinda makes the difference seem big. Back to the taste: Not only is the Montreal bagel bread sweetened and not too big on the hands, but it also has a nice sprinkle of seeds. What does the NYC bagel offer in that department? Not much, other than an oversized, bald bagel with lesser taste.
Native New Yorkers might say that is what the city is all about. Taking something original, rebrand it, repackage it, make it bigger, sell for profit. The hustle. But you have to be out of your god damn mind if you translate that goon talk into bagels. So no, not here. Good old flavour comes first, and there’s where Montreal wins by a mile.
Plus, Montreal is a way cooler city anyway. Always root for the underdog, dog.