Whitefish Salad

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Bagels are my madeline; one bite and a lifetime’s worth of poppy seeds and bad breath spill forth. I’ve written much about bagels on the web–this tribute to Bagelworks in Boca Raton, a bagel love letter for Serious Eats–but I’ve written very little about a bagel topping that’s been a constant in my life and in the lives of many Jews who I hold near and dear: whitefish salad. What’s whitefish salad? Let me tell you all about it.

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Bagelworks, Boca Raton

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Comfort of comforts–the white fluorescent lights, the angry senior citizens shoving in line–is there a taste more sweet than the taste of a Bagelworks bagel, shmeared with lox spread and whitefish salad, topped with sliced tomato and onion and washed down with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice? Welcome to Bagelworks in Boca Raton, the locus of my happiest eating from ages 11 to 18: from middle school through high school, with several visits between college and now. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I asked mom to take me here before going to my dad the dentist for a cleaning. The past flooded into the present as I entered that sacred space: a space that knew me as a gawky teenager, a first time driver, a failed candidate for student council president. There among my people–New York Jews transplanted to Florida–I eat the way I was meant to eat: with my hands, unafraid of bad breath, wiping cream cheese off my lips with a napkin and eyeing the waitress to refill my water. When I’m at Bagelworks, I’m at home

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