Rivals in Montreal's Bagel Wars unite to fight for their ovens

The Big Story


I think of Montreal's I think of Bagels if you've ever been inside one of the city's iconic Bagel res I want you to close your eyes and think about it right now I bet you can smell it. Today's story though goes beyond the smells and tastes. The BAGEL is woven into the fabric of Montreal's cultural and religious history and to institutions institutions in particular at the heart of all of these family businesses make bagels in a way unique to the city. They're famous for it and they do it using huge wood burning ovens and they're located right in the middle of residential neighborhoods and in the era of environmental awareness mess. You might guess where this is going. Well it appears that bagels and pizza and barbecue. Chicken have been put on notice in Montreal. The city has plans to crack back down on wood ovens in restaurants in restaurants that use charcoal might be affected as well. The city of Montreal says it won't actually force in the ICONIC BAGEL institutions to shut down their ovens but they are going to prevent any new businesses from operating the same way and what the year long controversy over for the future of wood. Burning Ovens has forced us to grapple with is this. What is Montreal without Montreal bagels? How do certain types of foods come to define the city and what happens? When the way you make? Those foods becomes a hazard Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the big story. Dan Baluyevsky is the New York. Times candidate correspondent based in Montreal. Aw Not far from the bakeries. Hey Dan good morning first of all I got to ask you because this is a question that will set up the rest of this interview. Are you a Fairmont Bagel guy or or a sandbox bagel Guy You're trying to get me deported from Montreal. I mean this is a religious question in the city so I'm not sure I can pray. Give my allegiance allegiance on plays but I can say that the key to winning my heart over a Bagel is serving me one hot right out of the oven and I think that wins the day when it it comes to be versus. So what happens when you start asking montrealers about bagels and you tell them. This is for the New York Times. Well Eagles on a culinary faultline and Montreal choosing between San Diego or or fairmount as choosing between you know the mets or the Yankees in New York City But in general montrealers are very proud of their bagels. It's one of the few things that Unites Quebecers so I think when the New York Times shows interest in bagels people are generally delighted by the global interest. One of the things you did that fascinated me. Because I've been to to both of these places and and did not quite assimilate the history is how far these two institutions go back. Can you sort of talk a little bit about the history of solutions. Sure one of the most fascinating things about this story was learning a history of both bagel places which are part of the social fabric of the city of it also part of the Jewish history of Montreal so fairmount Bagel which claims to be the oldest is owned by softened family and Orleans last Schaaf Min's uh-huh grandfather came over from Kiev in Nineteen nineteen originally had a Bagel stand in area of the city known as AL also Known as the main and it was a big place alleyway near Schwartz's and other iconic Jewish or Delhi and you know generations later three generations. Later Irwin now runs fairmount senior. which is a few blocks away in this hipster neighborhood? COBB called Mile. End was founded by Holocaust survivor and another colleague I believe in the nineteen fifties and I fifty seven and a young Italian immigrant. Boy Roy Called Joe Montana came to roll bagels when he was twelve years old. The Holocaust survivor became like a father to him and then eventually took over the business. So it's a wonderful kind of amylum of multicultural Montreal. Is there a rivalry between the two. It's sort of I think one of the funniest darkest comments someone made about my stories that it's not so much mets versus Yankees a Sunni versus Shia There amount or or or a sandwich or I mean. Obviously it's over the top analogy but yes. There's an incredible rivalry Both claim to be the oldest day. We'll play some Montreal Well same eater takes issue with the fact that fairmount says it's the oldest because fairmount was closed for a time as if that wasn't enough fairmount says it all biggles are perfectly symmetrical and the owner of San Diego says nonsense. All bagels are like snowflakes. Each one has a different shape and then turn Thurmond also has the bragging rights of saying that it's bagels. Were the first to go to outer space. Because the owner of FAIRMONT's cousin is a Canadian asteroid who took sixteen gene. Sesame seed Bagels to trash all space station several years ago so the rivalry is pretty intense but also cordial what is so special. So about Montreal bagels in particular like just as foodstuffs. What makes them different? You know I have to say Having lived in London Paris Brussels you stumble Prague Rock and massive Foodie. I mean there's this. This wonderful alchemy Montreal Bagel. That's hard to replicate anywhere else. In the world you know in particular compared to other bagels. Is London a Toronto The key to the Montreal Bagel is that it is boiled in honey infused water before being big and a wood burning oven and and you know it's just absolutely delicious heated. Hot Out of the bag and You know it's one of those beautiful Montreal moments can you put your finger on on any Taste or texture differences between the two Montreal Bakeries I think the main thing I've noticed is that the same bagels listen to have bigger holes than the fairmount Bagel bagels. Perhaps back or when Schloffmans claim that they're more symmetrical maybe they'll be more dainty looking the The semi ones look do. Look I guess if you use the snowflake analogy they all do seem to be a bit different looking and a bit. Bigger having a decent recent more girth but people have done blind taste tests and On able to distinguish between the two. We wanted to talk to you today because there's so much history and cultural significance here but there's also change coming. Potentially what is happening now to Bagels in Montreal. Well the UH link of the story was the fact that Neighbors of both David places and the hipster mile and neighbor the neighborhood near the plateau. Montreal are complaining about the pollution caused by the Wood Burning Evans which produce you know particularly which can lead to respiratory problems respiratory problems like asthma and produce pollutants like benzene. So neighbors are unhappy. Some neighbors are unhappy about the environmental implications of wood-burning Ivan's CD's considering a number of things one of which is passing you know a bylaw that would would force a wood burning oven businesses to install filters there's and so it's created this kind of Bagel battle or bigger war if you will between people who want to safeguard the lower and cultural bagel making and environmentalists who argue that the bagels come to press the environmental implications are too dire and that would bring up should be phased out. This is maybe a dumb. I'm question because there's there's only a few of these places do we have any actual evidence beyond anecdotal That these ovens are are causing harm. Yes I mean You know it all it all depends on the degree of harm but there is scientific evidence that you know these ovens do to produce particularly. It's that they do emit benzene and you know there's a real health and environmental hazards however one must calibrate that against other you know more egregious forums of pollution and climate change causing laurie trucks and advantages and excetera. So I guess everything is relative but now the CD itself has done. Yeah studies showing that the Devon's harmful what is this like as a political issue For the city given all the culture that we've just mentioned well I think it's a IT'S A. It's a very sensitive issue with the CD bagels in particular are so much a part of the Cultural Lor also The Portuguese immigrant community of Montreal before having rotisserie chicken places. A tiny community has pizzeria. So I mean it's not just the Bible so there's an economic point two eight. It

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