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Getting the Hole in the Bagel
Getting the Hole in the Bagel

Montrealers did not always have Montreal bagels. Once there was a baker in that city who wanted to find something different to serve his customers. Croissants, hamentachen, cookies they all knew. But what could he make that was different?

So the baker set off to see what he could find. He walked for many days until he came to a small town. He went straight to the bakery. He looked at this bakery’s croissants, hamentachen, and cookies – the baker was getting very hungry after such a walk – but then suddenly something reminded him of his important mission – to find something different to serve his customers. What he saw was round, like a yarmulke, but with a hole in the middle and a ring of dough around the hole! The woman there told him it was a bagel and he ordered 10 or so with a cup of tea.

The baker had never eaten anything so delicious. Sweet and chewy, perfect with the smoked salmon she served. He asked the woman if she would explain to him how she made these wonderful things called bagels. So she showed him just how she mixed the dough and kneaded and rolled it into round shapes, joining the ends together. She boiled the bagels in hot water and baked them over a fire in her brick oven. They smelled so good fresh that the baker ate another 12, warm and crispy!

When the woman asked if he understood all the parts of the bagel recipe, the baker said yes but he didn’t understand how she got the holes in the bagels. So the woman decided to play a joke - and sell some more of her bagels. She said, “Oh the holes, that’s easy. I come from a long line of bakers. My mother left me all her bagel holes, which she got from my grandmother who was also a bagel baker and so on going way back. I tell you what – I will sell you some bagels with some bagel holes. Then you can take them home to Montreal and you will always have bagel holes to go with the recipe I have given you.”

So the baker bought 12 dozen bagels on 3 strings, which makes four hundred and thirty-two bagels - and 432 bagel holes. When he got to the top of Mount Royal in Montreal he was getting very tired from carrying all these bagels, and he thought, “ Well they’re round, I’ll just roll the bagels down the hill and pick them up at the bottom.” But some dogs on Mount Royal, who are always there walking with their owners, ate up all 432 bagels. And they ate the holes too!

The baker didn’t know what to do. He thought and he thought and finally, he had an idea! He drew circles on his baker’s board and made his bagels around the holes, and boiled them and baked them in his special fire and brick oven. Then, who knew, one day he dropped raisins in by mistake, and Montrealers have been eating many different kinds of bagels ever since….

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