Column: Why Tuscaloosa needs a brick and mortar bagel shop

Column: Why Tuscaloosa needs a brick and mortar bagel shop
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Going to the dentist as a child would incite a strongest sense of panic in my bones. I feared everything, from the smell of the waiting room and the receptionist’s alarmingly too-cheery demeanor, to the “gift bag” stuffed with a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, also knownn as torture devices. 

Being the artful dissenter of the dentist that I was, and still am, I approached my parents with a simple contract, if you will: If I caused less of a scene at the dentist with minimal protest, I could enjoy a soothingly scrumptious shake from world-renowned dining establishment Steak ‘n Shake. This simple reward for doing, essentially, nothing was my consolation prize.

Now, as a habitual dentist-fearer and supporter of food as reward, I petition for a simple addition to the Tuscaloosa community: a bagel shop. Before defending and supporting this need, I do want to exude some thanks on those dining establishments in Tuscaloosa that currently sell bagels. 

Cravings, Edelweiss, Heritage House and Five Java have filled the bagel void in Tuscaloosa and I am indebted to them. If it is a bagel you seek in the near future, drop by any of these places for a delicious piece of that circular bread, not to be confused with a bundt cake, or pita for that matter. 

While bagels can be found in Tuscaloosa, we lack a brick and mortar establishment for bagels alone – one of those places that has vats of cream cheese and bagels bursting from baskets with the smell of bread baking drifting through the street, almost intoxicatingly so. After waiting for the bagel, it is delivered in a brown paper bag. The bagel itself is cut in half and sandwiches in cream cheese or eggs and bacon, then it is wrapped in aluminum foil. Unwrapping a treat such as this is arguably better than your birthday. 

The experience mentioned above cannot be found in Tuscaloosa as of now, but imagine being able to treat yourself to a bagel on a Saturday morning with a nondescript cup of coffee. You can show up in your pjs or sweatpants and it won’t matter because you get to eat a bagel.

There’s something special about a bagel store. They just get bagels. The bagel stores in New York form a sense of community and tradition. Bringing a similar establishment to Tuscaloosa could only be a positive experience for all. In downtown, there are quite a few empty spaces that would provide perfect bones for a bagel shop. Auburn and Athens both have bagel-centric restaurants, so now it’s our time to act. 

Imagine waking up this weekend knowing that you could have a handmade bagel, a deliciously plush and thick bagel. It would change your morning around. It would be a treat after a week of class, like my shake after going to the dentist.

Bagels, despite some criticism, come with health benefits. It’s true. Bagels are chock full of vitamins and minerals, including iron and B-vitamins. Because of high fiber in bagels, they reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and can constrain diabetes. Also, studies have shown that those that eat breakfast are healthier. Bagels are a breakfast food, but can also be eaten for any meal if you so desire. I will note that eating a bagel everyday is not in your best interest as they are heavy in carbohydrates, but eating them in moderation is a first-rate choice.

Every day I wonder why we lack a bagel shop in Tuscaloosa. That is not a dramatization. The Tuscaloosa community deserves a treat in the form of a bagel shop. 

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