05 December 2012

Bialy and Bagel

A bialy is a roll that is similar to a bagel usually with onion flakes sprinkled on it.

Bialy is a Yiddish word and a short form of bialystoker kuchen, from Białystok, a city in Poland.

This small roll was a traditional dish in Polish Ashkenazi cuisine but has become more generally popular.

A traditional bialy has a diameter of up to 15 cm (6 inches) and is a chewy yeast roll similar to a bagel. But, unlike a bagel which is boiled before baking, a bialy is simply baked. It doesn't have a hole in the middle, but simply a depression which, before baking, is filled with diced onions and other ingredients, including garlic, poppy seeds, or bread crumbs.

Białystok, Poland literally means "white river," from Polish biały "white" + stok "river" because the Bialy River flows through the region.

According to Wikipedia, contrary to common legend, the bagel was not created in the shape of a stirrup to commemorate the victory of Poland's King Jan III Sobieski over the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. It was actually invented much earlier in Kraków, Poland, as a competitor to the obwarzanek, a lean bread of wheat flour designed for Lent.

In the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, the bajgiel became a staple of the Polish national diet,and a staple of the Slavic diet generally.

That the name originated from beugal - an old spelling of Bügel, meaning bail/bow or bale. It is thought that it may stem from the shape of traditionally handmade bagels not being perfectly circular but rather slightly stirrup-shaped.

Variants of the word beugal are used in Yiddish and Austrian German to refer to a somewhat similar form of sweet filled pastry. The Mohnbeugel is made with poppy seeds and the Nussbeugel is made with with ground nuts.

According to the Merriam-Webster's dictionary, 'bagel' derives from the transliteration of the Yiddish 'beygl', which came from the Middle High German 'böugel' or ring, which itself came from 'bouc' (ring) in Old High German, similar to the Old English 'bēag' '(ring), and 'būgan' (to bend or bow).

Similarly another etymology in the Webster's New World College Dictionary says that the Middle High German form was derived from the Austrian German 'beugel', a kind of croissant, and was similar to the German 'bügel', a stirrup or ring.

No matter what the origin, both are delicious.

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