Bagels and Genres

Conversations about bagels have something to teach us about the nature of genres and the study of material culture. I realized this a few years ago as I was sitting in an Einstein’s Bagels in Las Vegas that was decorated with standardized murals imitating 1930s Bauhaus design. I remembered a conversation with a friend a decade earlier about the authenticity of modern-day bagels—or lack thereof. But as I glanced at the “traditional” preparation with lox and capers alongside the sun-dried tomato variants, it occurred to me that it might be a false competition.


Summer really begins in the North Country on the Fourth of July. It ends on Labor Day. Cruel as that may seem to someone living south of here, most of us have learned to adapt….Summer is precious to us, so we cram lots of fun things into a few weeks. Some of the special things of summer for me are food treats we can’t get any other time of year. I’ll share some of my favorites.


My mother-in-law’s name was Fern. She set an example in her mastery of all the survival techniques that are necessary for living in the Adirondacks…She was particularly good at scrounging in the woods. She knew where all the berries were—strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and even wild grapes. During apple season, she hiked around sampling all the wild apple trees to find the best ones…. At the same time, she kept a huge garden….The crowning glory of the tomato crop was her chili sauce, and she was pretty famous for it.


Northern New York’s Tug Hill is a little shorter than the Himalayas, to say the least. Not far from the foot of that plateau, however, at the edge of downtown Watertown, New York, I was fortunate to sit down recently with Prabin and Saranga Bhat of B-Hat’s Curry House for a lovely visit, sharing some of their favorite Nepalese flavors.


Growing up, we ate homemade baked beans every Saturday night—because my family was from New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada. Lots of people in upstate New York, New England, the Maritime Provinces, and Quebec still have a bean pot tucked away in a kitchen cupboard.

Good Read

A book review of “Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking” by Toni Tipton-Martin.

From the Waterfront

The columnist, Nancy Solomon, reflects on the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic and restaurant closure on Long Island fishermen and baymen.