bagel lore

Wed, 17 Aug 1994 18:53:18 CST

To any bagelmaniacsout there! I am writing a social history of
out there! Iam writing a social history of the bagel. Laugh. But this
is a serious venture. No such history exists. You may have heard the
story of the Viennese baker, who, in 1683 (?), invented the bagel in
honor of the Polish king who repulsed the Turks and saved Vienna. He was
said to
had invented the bagel because the king had a passion for horses. He
the bagel in the form of a stirrup, the word for stirrup in German being
beugel. But that has been shown to be apocryphal because references to
bagels have been fount before 1683. I got interested while on a trip to
China about two year ago. While in Beijing, I visited a Uygur outdoor
``restaurant" that
had an outdoor oven next to it. One kind of bread being sold was a
flatbread, found throughout the middle east and the other was round with
an impression in the center that did not go all the way through--but
looked like a big bagel. When I bit into it, it tasted just like a
bagel. Those of you who know about bagels know that bagels are made
differently than ordinary bread. Bagels go through a process where they
are boiled in salt water and then baked. I have been unable to find out
the exact means by which the Uygur tribe bakes its bread--but a Uygur
scholar informs me that bagels were found in an Uygur tomb about l00
A.D. No jokesabout stale bagels.
The Uygurs are a tribe from northwest China, Moslem, herders, moving
from place to place. Likewise, the Jews, who have been associated with
bagels, were merchants and made a number of expeditions to China. Then
there is the story of the Khazars, a people that is said to have
converted to Judiasm and migrated to Central Europe.
Query? Did the Uygurs get the bagel from the Jews or the Jews from the
Uygurs or did both people's discover the process for making the bagel
independently. By the way, the oven used by the Uygurs is partly made of
There is also a great amount of folklore about bagels: it is round and
thus is symbolic of unending life; related to good luck; in China, not a
bagel but a round cake with a hole is hung around a child's neck, and
bits are distributed to all the children of the village. Any other
folklore or ideas for further research will be appreciated.