Original Fairmount Bagels

Alexandre Enkerli (alexandre.enkerli@IMM.UNIL.CH)
Fri, 19 Aug 1994 13:07:11 +0100

Ok, I haven't been following this thread or anything, so...
I'm from Montreal where bagels are part of the local culture. It is
associated with Jewish people, but it still very Montrealer. And everybody
knows that the "Original Fairmount Bagels" (on Fairmount street) are the
best in the business...
Tuesday, I received a linguist from Israel who had been to Montreal a
couple of times. We were discussing both Montreal's Jewish culture and
"food culture". And it was he who brought up the subject of bagels as
being a "cultural trait" of Jewish people in Montreal. So, I don't know
where bagels come from or if they really are Jewish, but it was clear that
they can be identified as Jewish culture. Don't we think of Italians when
we talk about pastas, eventhough they were invented by Chinese and brought
back to Italy by Marco Polo (or, at least, that's what people say)?
What I mean is, without growing a whole theory of cultural diffusion or
anything like that, it can be interesting to see what people identify to.
I've seen threads about Swiss culture when the soc.culture.swiss group came
into existence (sorry, I know this doesn't seem relevant). It has grown
into a lenghty discussion about cultural stereotypes (seeing Switzerland as
the land of chocolate, clocks, banks and fondue). None of these
stereotypes can be seen as a real identity marker. But still, they
contribute to the external image of the place...
Bagels might only be a piece of bread, but still, it can become something
that people recognize as belonging to this or that cultural
community...Living in Europe now, I realized that most people didn't know
what bagels are and hadn't associated any "cultural value" to it.
Anyway, that's only my .013SFr. (or .01$US, depending on the point of view)

Alexandre Enkerli
Laboratoire d'Analyse Informatique de la Parole (LAIP)
U.de Lausanne (Unil): alexandre.enkerli@imm.unil.ch
Dept.Anthropologie, U.de Montreal(UdeM): enkerlia@ere.umontreal.ca