03 June 2004

Bagel trouble

It's long been supposed by bagel lovers that the quality of New York City bagels has something to do with the water, and bagel makers agree.

When third-generation bagel baker Steve Ross was invited to demonstrate bagel making at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., last spring he took all the ingredients in his grandfather's recipe: — high-gluten flour, fresh yeast, salt, malt and 30 gallons of New York water.

In fact, when he ran low on H2O, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection airlifted another 20 gallons down to the nation's capital to ensure festival visitors would get the real McCoy.

Is there truly something in the water that makes New York bagels the best in the world?

“Oh, without a doubt,” says Ross, owner of Coney Island Bialys and Bagels. “We even tried to make a few bagels and bialys with Washington water and we couldn't get a rise out of the dough. I can't pinpoint what it is — the chemicals in the water, the filtration process, or what — but New York water's the best water around.”

But now, disaster of disaster, I learn from Collision Detection that it turns out that maybe NYC water isn't kosher!

Some rabbis now say that New York City tap water — for a century a gold standard for cleanliness — is not kosher.

These rabbis have recently discovered that there are tiny creatures, called copepods, in the unfiltered water that streams into the city from upstate. These tiny organisms are harmless. But they are crustaceans. And crustaceans are not considered kosher.

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