One cannot turn on the TV these days even for the most legitimate reasons without being taunted by the sacrilege: bacon-on-bagels.
Bacon-on-bagels . . . Heresy. Blasphemy. Desecration.
The bagel is the quintessence of the Jewish Experience: Crusty exterior, soft at heart, hard-boiled, half-baked, growing stale if it stays in one place too long.
Some would say, apocryphally, that the name "bagel" is related to the Aramaic word for "to hasten," as in "to hasten the coming of the Messiah." The Messiah may tarry, but a bagel lovingly slathered with chive-flecked cream cheese and enshrouded in two (OK, three) slices of velvety lox, is for a moment the long-awaited return to the Garden of Eden.
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Let me say a word or two about lox: Lox is not "smoked salmon." I have no scientific data to substantiate this. But "smoked salmon" is eaten on toast points with creamery butter and chopped egg whites by people named Miffy and Trent. Lox is down-and-dirty two-fisted food, consumed by people named Marv and Irv, washed down by a Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray or semi-viscous black coffee.
Lox may be either salty or "Nova." Growing up in Chicago, we knew not the Nova species. The first time I asked my mother about Nova lox, she told me it tasted "spoiled." I have since moved on, grown more cosmopolitan, and dabbled a bit in Nova, but never without the image of my mother's consternation haunting the recesses of my middle-aged psyche.
The furthest a bagel should be allowed to stray from lox is to a delicate layer of strawberry or raspberry preserves on top of the cream cheese. So long, that is, as we understand it as only a moment's diversion from the earthy reality of bawdy lox and authoritative slices of Bermuda onion.
And what are those pink and blue things that some trendy "shoppes" try to pass off as bagels? Feh. Horse fodder. Do not get me started.
Some entrepreneurs have had a modicum of success in marketing a "pizza bagel." Purists may one day come to accept the pizza bagel, this half-breed child of two robust, passionate cultures. It may, indeed, more quickly bridge the gap between Rome and Jerusalem than a papal visit to Miami Beach. Sophia Loren and Philip Roth are collaborating on a position paper.
But bacon-on-bagel is heresy tantamount to erecting a statue of Zeus Olympus in the Holy of Holies. The Faithful have fought and died for less.
Brothers and sisters, what will be next? Matzo balls bound with fatback? Chopped liver napped with mayonnaise? Knishes masquerading as spring rolls?
Heaven protect us from the likes of these . . .
Let Mickey D. revel in his illicit porcine pleasures, but, hey, gimme back my bagels.