We can talk about pizza or talk about pastrami. But if New York has a corner on any one foodstuff, it’s the humble bagel. A true New York bagel is shaped by hand, boiled and then baked, giving you something that’s lightly crusted, pleasantly chewy and a perfect base for sandwiches.
There’s nothing wrong with a bagel that’s buttered or cream cheesed, and an egg-and-cheese bagel has cured many a Manhattan hangover. But the bagel’s truest friend is smoked fish.
The filling: Lox, you may have heard of, but there’s a whole vocabulary of fish terms you should know, including several just for salmon. Nova is brined and then cold-smoked. Lox and gravlax aren’t actually smoked at all: Anything called lox is brined in salt, and gravlax is brined in sugar, salt and dill. Moving on to decadently rich white fish, both sturgeon and sable are buttery, with a high fat content that makes them ideal for smoking. For all of the above, cream cheese is a standard accompaniment, preferably the freshly whipped sort, not brick-hard from the refrigerator.