The History of the Montreal Bagel
Montreal bagels, like the similarly shaped New York bagel, were brought to North America by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe; the difference in texture and taste reflect the style of the particular area in Eastern Europe in which the immigrant bakers learned their trade. They were first baked in Montreal by Chaim (Hyman) Seligman. Seligman worked in the neighbourhood community of Lachine and later moved his bakery to the lane next door to Schwartz's Delicatessen on Boulevard St. Laurent in central Montreal. Seligman would string his bagels into dozens and patrol Jewish Main purveying his wares, originally with a pushcart, then a horse and wagon and still later from a converted taxi.
Seligman went into partnership with Myer Lewkowicz and with Jack Shlafman but fell out with both of them. Seligman and Lewkowicz founded the St. Viateur Bagel Shop in 1957 and Shlafman established Fairmount Bagel in 1919, which both still exist in the present day. A substantial proportion of Montreal's English-speaking Jewish community gradually left for other locales. Catering to this population, Montreal-style bagel shops have opened in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Calgary, and other Canadian, and even US cities, such as Seattle, Houston, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon. However, this style of bagel has been, until know, almost completely unknown in the northeastern U.S. despite its proximity to Montreal.
In contrast to the machine made New York-style bagel, Montreal Bagels are hand prepared from a strip of dough that has been formed into a circle and rolled on the seam, producing a Bagel that is smaller, sweeter, denser and with a larger hole.
Montreal-style bagels have even flown in space. Gregory Chamitoff, who grew up in Montreal, took three bags of sesame bagels with him on his assignments to STS-124 as passenger and ISS Expedition 17 as crewmember. Read More
The Original Chaim Seligman Method of Making the Bagel
After the Bagels have been boiled, the baker retrieves them from the kettle with a strainer and dips the steaming hot Bagels into sesame or poppy seeds. The Bagels are then placed on two long, wooden bakers peels or paddles with beveled edges, called a 'sheeba' that are slipped into the wood-burning oven, which reaches temperatures exceeding 700 degrees centigrade. After about 4 minutes, the Bagels are flipped onto the oven's brick floor. Because of the oven's heat fluctuations, the Bagels must be skillfully shifted with the sheeba. The Bagels are baked for twenty minutes before the baker tosses them into a large wooden bin. Eat them hot or add a filling of your own choice! The Recipe
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