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The Bristol Bagel Ballad

By Cyril Robinson

For Jews, eating is the covenant
A way to enter the holy tent
Consuming bread
Is leaven from heaven
Ingesting what God has said.

A bagel made of wheat
Had its seat
It grew 6000 years ago
till it got just so.

The bagel is a kind of roll
You can tell; it has a hole
On any table, it is royal
The sole roll that needs a boil.

As you will see, its story features
Kings, cooks, all sorts of creatures
From the Middle East, it takes a walk
till it ends up in New York.

Its made of flour, water, yeast and malt.
Then you add a bit of salt
But to give that roll its soul
It needs mythology to fill that hole.

Without beginning nor end
Like Jewish life, it takes a bend
Warding off the evil eye
Bringing good luck by and by.

And because of its savor
It charms women in labor
When the teeth are incomin
It helps with the gummin.

They started out plain as sin
Now all kinds are in the bin
Garlic, onion cinnamon.
Chocolate chip, sprouted wheat, jalapena,.

At one time, men in yarmulkes
Made them with a twist
But, a machine came on, and
Thanks to you Brits
The real bagel called it quits.

As to its origins
Look to those twins
A cousin in the doughnut
Another in the pretzel, but
Then it gets more murkey
With a victory over Turkey.

Bagels might more likely please
Schmeared with lox and cream cheese
Me, I prefer returning to fundamentals
Though that might be bad for my dentals.

The bagel has become a symbol
A thimble, by which is sewn
A cloak, a rug, a ring on a finger
A crunch, all together in a bunch.

If you listen to the munch
You will hear a kind of kvetch
Sounding a clarinetish krekhts
Slowly ending its soulful life
Of strife.

All that’s left of the roll
Is its hole.

The Bristol Bagel Ballad was first performed at a Jewish community center in Bristol, England. The mention of the the machine that changed the history of the bagel was a bagel-making machine by a Brit named Thompson.


from the November 2007 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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