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Reports of the death of the Montreal bagel appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

Mike Pomranz
December 06, 2018

For many Americans, New York City is seen as the bagel capital of the world. But if you cross our northern border, Canadians may have a much different idea of what a bagel is supposed to taste like: Up in Quebec, the Montreal-style bagel is king. What sets these smaller Montreal bagels apart, beyond their obvious bigger hole, is that they are sweeter (thanks to the addition of sugar and being poached in water with honey) and also have a crispy crust and chewy center. This final quality is traditionally achieved with the use of a wood-fired oven.

So needless to say, when word began to spread that parts of Montreal were looking to solidify air-quality standards by banning the use of wood or coal to cook food, people began to cry, "Won't somebody think of the bagels?!" The good news is that someone has thought of the bagels — and no, wood-fired ovens in traditional bagel shops aren't going anywhere. So far, all restaurants that are currently using wood and coal are being grandfathered into the new rules.

On Monday, Montreal's Plateau-Mon-Royal borough became the second in the city to announce a regulation banning all new businesses from using wood or charcoal to cook food, according to the Montreal Gazette. The regulation is similar to one passed in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough already this year. But in both cases, existing restaurants won't be forced to change. The Gazette suggests that, in total, Montreal is currently home to about 70 businesses that use wood ovens.

As for the rest of the city, Eater Montreal explains that Mayor Valerie Plante said she wouldn't seek a citywide ban and no other boroughs are currently seeking similar regulations. So as a result, reports of the death of the Montreal bagel appear to have been greatly exaggerated. That said, the Gazette writes that owners of business using wood ovens will continue to be pushed to change to gas, so this battle might not yet be over.

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