Any food lover coming to Montreal must have heard of the famous bagel-bakeries in Mile End: Fairmont and St Viateur. Both have been in the area for at least fifty years and both are open 24/7. For some reason, bagels here are considered breakfast, snacks to eat with Philadelphia cheese in the afternoon and 2 am drunk food. I am not convinced, but I am not a real bagel-lover. I am a bit indifferent that the bagel dough is pounded by hand, and the bagels quickly cooked in sugary water before being put in the oven by the dozens with long wooden shovels. I cannot join the discussion which bagel is better because they all taste the same to me. But who am I to deny bagel-lovers their passionate defence for their favourite bagel? The only way to find the best bagel would be to let everyone fight it out!
Ladies and gentlemen! The moment we have all been waiting for! Tune in on the finals of the World Championship of Best Bagels Ever, the Montreal edition! I am your smooth-talking and non-partisan commentator for the night, so sit back and enjoy the show!
“Welcome tonight at the ultimate, the greatest, the most intense, winner-takes-all fight between the two giants of the Mile End food scene!
“The judges and spectators are finally seated. They are the biggest bagel-lovers amongst the Montreal population: our hip Montreal locals, our scruffy students and the (mostly American) tourists! Give them some applause for their dedication!
“Everyone! Let’s get ready to rumbl-l-l-e!
“In the left corner I present to you, the angel of the bagel, the hero of midnight snacks: “Feisty” Fairmont!
“In the right corner we have the challenger, the oh-so-tasty, the immensely popular: St “The Saint” Viateur!
“And both fighters are ready, covered with flour, fists achin’ for a bakin’, and there is the bell!
“The Saint starts with a fast left jab, and throws a sesame bagel in Feisty’s face! Ooh, look at that! Those sesame seeds flew right into his eyes! That must hurt! But Feisty has his own attack ready, and he smashes a bag of half a dozen sesame bagels against The Saint’s jaw! It is raining sesame seeds! I hope the fighters won’t slip on these! Whoops! Feisty was almost down, but rolls out of the way in time! That could have been a nasty punch with a two-day-old bagel! The Saint has pulled out the heavy guns and flings bagels covered with salmon and cream cheese! Feisty ducks out of the way and has to shield himself against all that cheesy goodness! But he is back on the attack! Here comes a double chocolate bagel followed by a raisin and cinnamon uppercut! Ow, I felt that in my kidneys as well! The Saint backs up, no, he doesn’t! He delivers a storm of hits with poppy seed bagels held in both hands! Aww! That’s a lost tooth! Feisty rushes in with a triple poppy bagel kick and The Saint is down! Feisty jumps up, but, no! He trips over all the sesame and poppy seeds in the ring! What a shame! And they are both face-down in bagel dough! All spectators are screaming for them to get up! But they aren’t moving, THREE, TWO, ONE, THEY ARE BOTH DOWN! The Fight of the Bagel Giants ended with a draw! And, aha, there are the first tourists storming the stage, they must be New Yorkers, picking up a bunch of natural bagels, and trying to get to the tourists from Vancouver who have armed themselves with the remains of multigrain bagels! I see some local women try to get into the ring and fight of the tourists, but they are held back by their bearded husbands! The students are forming a ragged mob and are quickly sneaking of with the sweet-tasting spoils of the fight! What a night! Unbelievable it ended this way!
“Send me your opinions, ladies and gentlemen, because we want to settle this once and for all, but this might take a while! Until the next time and the next fight! Over and out!”
Check out the other letters and stories of the Montréal Food Critic’s Alphabet!