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The Bagel (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 10. Juli 2009

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"'Maria Balinska combines stories, history and hands-on experience with a style as brisk and toothsome as the crust of a freshly baked bagel and content as dense and flavourful as its skilfully handled dough.' Gillian Riley, author of The Oxford Companion to Italian Food"


If smoked salmon and cream cheese bring only one thing to mind, you can count yourself among the world's millions of bagel mavens. But few people are aware of the bagel's provenance, let alone its adventuresome history. This charming book tells the remarkable story of the bagel's journey from the tables of seventeenth-century Poland to the freezers of middle America today, a story of often surprising connections between a cheap market-day snack and centuries of Polish, Jewish, and American history.Research in international archives and numerous personal interviews uncover the bagel's links with the defeat of the Turks by Polish King Jan Sobieski in 1683, the Yiddish cultural revival of the late nineteenth century, and Jewish migration across the Atlantic to America. There the story moves from the bakeries of New York's Lower East Side to the Bagel Bakers' Local 388 Union of the 1960s, and the attentions of the mob. For all its modest size, the bagel has managed to bridge cultural gaps, rescue kings from obscurity, charge the emotions, and challenge received wisdom.

Maria Balinska weaves together a rich, quirky, and evocative history of East European Jewry and the unassuming ring-shaped roll the world has taken to its heart. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe.

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History-Lite. 27. November 2008
Von Gerard J. St John - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This short book (195 pages) does not purport to be a definitive history of the bagel. As the author notes, the bagel is a modest bread made of commonly available ingredients, flour, water and eggs. It should not be surprising that many people throughout history have mixed these ingredients into a dough that is boiled and then baked in a circular shape with a hole in the middle. Similar foodstuffs have been found in many places, including China and Italy. This book focuses on the bagels of the Jewish bakers in Poland and in the United States. It is history-lite.

Actually, it is "histories-lite." It presents a series of summary histories. It tells the story of Jan Sobieski's military victory, lifting the siege of Vienna in 1683. It tells the story of the hard-working bakers and the impoverished peddlers of bagels in the cities of Poland for more than two centuries. It tells the story of the Jewish immigrant bakers in the lower east side of New York City. It tells the role of the Polish Jews in the labor movement in the first half of the 1900s, a movement that pitted capitalism against socialism. And it tells how the Lender brothers guided their bagel baking company into a multi-million dollar business.

Together, these summary histories provide clear snapshots of the lives of people who are not usually mentioned in traditional history books. The book is well written and well worth reading.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A Bagel's Eye View of Cultural Change With Humor and Some Memorable Lines 17. Dezember 2008
Von David Crumm - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Let me respectfully add a word of context to the "History-Lite" review on this page. Maria Balinska, a veteran journalist with the BBC, is the first to admit that her bagel book is not an exhaustive history of all elements related to the bagel. There's an important scholarly tradition now of pursuing such threads through the centuries. If you're looking for such a study, one of the classics in the field is Fernand Braudel's still awesome "Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, Vol. I: The Structure of Everyday Life (Civilization and Capitalism : 15th-18th Century)." (And, yes, Braudel does write a lot about bread.)

That's not the point of "The Bagel." This slim and fascinating volume is aimed at reminding readers that -- as surprising as it may seem to many men and women -- something as simple as a bagel can become a colorful window into the evolving nature of Jewish culture especially in Europe and North America.

And more than that, what's so great about exploring threads of religious and ethnic identity like this? Well, the story of bagels in America also is a part of American Baby Boomer experience, whatever your faith may be. Like a lot of other Baby Boomers, I vividly recall discovering the exotic delight of bagels in the early 1970s and watching this distinctive treat go mainstream throughout my own adult life. Similarly, Jewish Americans have moved more prominently into the American mainstream during those decades.

The author is well aware of the scholarly giants in the field of cultural history and culinary evolution. She readily points out that she's not trying to outdo the Braudels in this field. Rather, her book is a talented journalist's tribute to the enlightenment we all can find in exploring the stuff of everyday life that we all too often take for granted.

Plus, as a lifelong journalist myself, I can tell you that I finished the book with a dozen corners of pages folded over, marking anecdotes and great lines that I plan to share with others. This book is that fun.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Yummy! 24. Februar 2009
Von Walter Phelps - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
My daughter, who was a classmate of the author at college, gave me this book for Christmas and I promptly devoured it. It is extraordinary for its breadth and depth of scope, running from the Middle Ages in Poland to New York in the mid-twentieth century. It is as delightful to read as it is erudite; I particularly savored (I can't think of a more appropriate word) the chapters about New York's lower East Side. I bought it as a gift for a Jewish colleague and she concurs with this judgement.
1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
"Its profundity access and cogitate!" 7. Mai 2013
Von dragon711 - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Balinska takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the social, political, cultural and military forces that shaped the bagel. She mentions other ring-shaped breads around the world that may or may not have influenced the bagel, and uses the bagel as a lens with which to examine the historic condition of East European Jewry. The bagel was a symbol of luxury because it was made with more expensive wheat, not the ubiquitous rye. But it could also be a symbol of indigence and even depression, as only the very poorest were bagel-sellers, and most of them ate day-olds.

The bagel percolated through all levels of Jewish society, from rabbis to secular socialists, but was always marketed and sold to non-Jews as a delicacy, too, despite Untouchable-like regulations saying that Jews could not touch bread in the presence of Christians. Balinska paints a picture of a tolerant, ethnically mixed Greater Poland in which Jews were central to urban trade- a milieu long dead- perhaps as an appeal to how the future could be?

The book shows how the homogenization, mass production, and mass popularity of the bagel crossed ethnic lines and paralleled the assimilation of Jews into American society, while the return of the "traditional" handmade bagel to NYC, London and of all places, Montreal speaks to changing attitudes about asserting ethnic identities. Balinska also defends the use of lox-and-bagels as symbols of suburbanized, assimilated Jewish identity. I'm not sure I agree. By explicitly referencing her "Jewish and gentile" Polish ancestry, her foreign husband and adopted Chinese daughter, she is eager as well to trot out her own cosmopolitan credentials. The bagel has returned to East Europe, not as a cheap snack associated with the despised Jewry, but as a prized accoutrement to an "American" way of life! Irony!

Early Yiddish poets saw the hole in a bagel as a symbol of infinity, the inevitability of death, or the Void. Balinska concludes that the bagel's circular shape is the apt symbol of Jewish continuity despite tragedy (the hole). But I have to disagree; lox-and-bagels alone doesn't make a Jew. And having "Jewish and gentile" ancestry, a foreign husband and a Chinese adoptee daughter doesn't make one a Jew. Observance of Torah and mitzvos makes one a Jew... the culture would not, and cannot, continue if we all thought as Ms. Balinska did!
Well written 15. November 2010
Von New Leaf - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
It's a very slim book with lots of details and information. Pity the book did not come with samples of each of the breads mentioned in it!!! I read it in about 2 sittings and would have loved to eat a bagel at the end of the book.

Good read and I highly recommend it.
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