When you live in East London and regularly eat bagels from Brick Lane, you tend to be a loyalist. You either go to ‘The Beigel Shop’ aka, the yellow one (called so because of their yellow sign) or ‘Beigel Bake’, the white one (with a white sign predictably). I always go to the white one. It’s my comfort zone. Quick and efficient service without a smile, and honestly, that’s the way I like it. Also, the baker is my mate. He throws free bagels at me fresh from the oven. They are so hot that they almost burn the tips of my fingers off, and they’re spectacular.
I wouldn’t say i’m a purist, but I do find the idea of a rainbow bagel disturbing. Truthfully, I’m not into ‘rainbow’ generally. I was never a real fan of rainbow ice-cream as a kid, or ‘My Little Ponies’. I was once chased by a clown with a filthy bright feather duster (I never quite got over the horror, or my aversion to clowns), and I left my rainbow coloured tie-dye tees back in the mid nineties. When I heard however, that the yellow shop were selling rainbow bagels, I had to check them out. Just once. Just this one time I would venture into the yellow shop to buy my bagel.
The yellow shop makes me anxious. The people in there smile, and I don’t like it. I bought my bagel, minus the fillings so as to better judge it. My friend got hers with salt beef. The salt beef looked pretty good, though she didn’t get mustard or pickles which in my opinion is akin to salt beef sacrilege (that’s her fault though, not the bagel shop’s).
So, the rainbow bagel, it’s fun as an artistic exercise. I certainly enjoyed carrying it around and photographing it with other colourful things for point of comparison. Really though, it’s a gimmick. Perhaps i’m stating the obvious here but I felt like they were more worried about it being colourful, than about it being good. All style, and no substance, and did I want to eat it? No. I found it about as appealing as the idea of eating my sister’s naked people sculptures that she made out of salty bread dough, and glazed with shellac for her final high school art project.
I’m not sure what they do to make it colourful, lots of colouring I suppose, and I’m not sure if they add flavouring. It certainly was sweeter than your average plain bagel, but the sweetness had a sort of fake metallic tinge to it, a bit bubblegummy I guess (rainbow does tend to be) but also laced with a mildly cheerful hint of impending doom. Colourful things should make one happy. This bagel did not bring me much joy, despite, or perhaps as a result, of it’s technicolour visual.
I know what you’re thinking. I was prejudiced, I didn’t really give it a chance and was determined to hate it. I’m a rainbow bagel winger, a grouch and a killjoy. That’s not true though! (it’s a little bit true, you do eat with your eyes first after all) but I did try! I really did. I had bought more than one to give it a full and fair opportunity. I ate it plain. I took it home and ate it toasted with butter, I tried some with cream cheese and another bit with peanut butter before falling into a bagel coma and partaking in a Sunday afternoon nap.
Once I regained my equilibrium I ate some more with hummous and cheddar. I tried, but it was all wrong. The consistency lacked contrasts. It was missing the glossy slightly crunchy outer as a foil for the soft chewy inside. The flavour was odd, and did not succeed alone or as a blank canvas for an assortment of toppings. Was it festive looking? Yes. Was it good? No. Am I missing the point? Maybe. Do I care? No.
Now I’ve tried it, I can happily go back to the white shop, where they toss the bagels at me with disdain and resent my patronage.
Ah… much better.