If ‘shmear’ is a part of your vocabulary, then we should talk. Perhaps you grew up in a New York-influenced household like I did. In that case, bagels should have been a pretty significant part of your breakfast diet, as they were for me. My dad was born and raised in Long Island, New York. I grew up surrounded by classic New York foods: bagels, challah bread, pastrami sandwiches, Nathan hot dogs, cheesecake and the list goes on. It was a good childhood.
Finding that special bagel in Los Angeles County, however, felt like a treasure hunt. My parents and I would drive about 20 minutes on Sunday mornings to our favorite bagel bakery. It was a nuisance, but I never really questioned it because I figured it was the norm. Plus, the pay-off of a toasted bagel with a shmear of cream cheese (spread thick) was well worth the trouble.
Traveling 20 minutes to find a good bagel in New York City is unheard of. I spent a few days in the city this summer and it was one of my first lessons. Spending time looking for a bagel in NYC would be the equivalent of having trouble finding a shopping mall in Southern California