As a born-and-bred New Yorker, I’m predisposed to believe that bagels should be good enough on their own not to need much gussying up. Blueberry bagel? No thank you. Chocolate bagel? Only if you’re in Disneyworld. A good bagel should be fresh, doughy and fluffy enough that all it needs in the way of embellishment is a good schmear.
But I have to admit there is one new-school bagel variety I can get behind: the increasingly omnipresent asiago cheese bagel. Embarrasingly, I believe I first tried this kind 8 years ago at an Einstein Bros. Bagels shop, of all places (I know, I know, but I lived in DC at the time, and ES has already lamented the quality bagel crisis there).
I loved it. That rich, slightly burnt orange-y cheese on top can really take a mediocre bagel and make it great. Since then, I’ve seen asiago bagels all over the country, and I’m not about it. Not mad about it one bit.
But it got me thinking: why is asiago cheese the only kind that seems to ever be baked into a bagel? Why hasn’t this opened up a whole new world of cheesy bagel delights? Where are the parmesan bagels? The brie bagels? The cheddar and havarti bagels?
Is there some physical reason why asiago cheese is the only kind that works baked into a bagel? Does the asiago lobby have the bagel bakers on their payroll? Is their a conspiracy against cheddar? I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth — it’s certainly not asiago bagels’ fault — but what’s the deal here? I want more cheesy bagels! Or at least I want some answers.