Emergency Biscuit: The Bagel Conundrum
Are you in a breakfast conundrum? Do you have deep-seated, unresolved feelings for brunch? Are you at a loss in front of the smorgasbord of life? Because so often breakfast is about feelings, and relationships teeter on the edge of the morning meal table, Extra Crispy editors Kat Kinsman (Bis-kat) and Margaret Eby (Bisc-gret) are here with the fourth installment of Emergency Biscuits, our breakfast advice column, to dole out hopefully not half-baked counsel and recipes for life. Got a question for the Biscuits? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ah, the brunch potluck, a weird gauntlet of friendships everywhere! It’s hard enough to suss out what you should bring and in what quantity for dinner, and for brunch, there’s the extra pressure of a morning time activity. It’s a thing! Here, your friends did you the favor of letting you know an item to bring, rather than say, having you guess and bring two bottles of Champagne to brunch full of teetotallers (it me!), or a bacon bouquet to a largely-vegetarian party.
But don’t tie yourself into too many bagel-related knots. (I think that’s just a pretzel *ducks*) Basically, unless they specify, there aren’t many ways that you can get this thing wrong. (Unless you decided to be like, ok, 13 of these chorizo-vanilla bagels!) Me, I would go for greatest hits—everything, wheat, plain, egg, poppyseed, and maybe a specialty of wherever I was getting them from—and get a few extra everything, wheat, and plain. Maybe a couple of exotic cream cheeses to spice things up (jalapeno! trust).
Really, no matter how you plan it, there might be a few uneaten rounds at the bottom of the bag, and a tub of cream cheese that’s been less depleted than the others. That’s not a failure of your planning, and you shouldn’t take it as a rebuke. Bringing the bagels isn’t just a task, it’s a gesture. It’s why, as my mother says, you don’t show up with your hands hanging—one is carrying something. It is as much of an offering of solidarity as it is your ability to perfect predetermine how many people want blueberry bagels. You’re helping. You helped. It’s enough.
Let’s get this out of the way: You could just bring bialys, mic drop, boom.
But since you asked, can we frame this rill quick? Were you tasked with bringing the bagels, or entrusted with bringing the bagels? And for that matter, “bringing bagels” or “bringing the bagels”? Seeing as you parenthesized it as the latter, I’m gonna say this request comes served with a thick schmear of trust built in. Otherwise, they would have said doughnuts. (Any fool can arrive bearing competent doughnuts.)
“The” implies that your bagels are the only bagels on the table, and no one would trust a schmuck with such a key part of the spread. Clearly, your reputation precedes you with this particular host. They’re know you’re not gonna show up with some fakakta spread of all raisin or blueberry bagels (one of each is okay...I guess), and that your fundamentals are solid.
But if you’re nervous, might I suggest eight standards (including and limited to: plain, salt, pumpernickel, sesame, egg, onion or garlic, poppyseed, and everything—as well as combos thereof) and with the remaining four, let your freak flag fly. Think of it as your freestyle floor routine after a safe, solid, excellent turn on the pommel horse. You nailed the fundamentals, and now you’re adding the pizzazz. A saucy rump shake of horseradish, or little shimmy-shimmy of baked-in asiago. You scored your spot on the podium, and now you’re just playing to the crowd.
Though I can’t help but wonder who you’re afraid of disappointing here. Your hosts? Nah—they know you’re gonna stick the landing. This is an internalized angst. Self-inflicted, surely. We fear being seen at our dullest and coziest, our most plainly adorned in fleece bottoms, flannel robes and chunky sweaters—but isn’t that when we’re at our most relaxed and content? The boldest move of all might be to show up with a baker’s dozen of well-crafted plain bagels, the cream cheese in which you have the most faith, and letting folks have at it. If that’s not enough for them, it’s not a failing in you. You did as you were asked. You brought your best. Maybe they’re just too proud to bagel.