An Ode to Plain Bagels with Cream Cheese
In the United States, there exists a wondrous delicacy -
A mouthwateringly tasty one, crafted with expertise -
That is known by all and enjoyed universally,
Called the Plain Bagel with Cream Cheese.
It features a donut-shaped roll of fluffy dough
Packed tightly, with crisped edges toasted golden,
And a layer of soft, creamy goodness smeared on top.
In America, for a bagel one need not search high and low.
But in España, this delightful country which I have chosen,
The quest has been extremely daunting, shop after shop after shop...
For most people, one of the most exciting parts of moving to any foreign country is being surrounded by local cuisine and getting the chance to try new dishes nearly every day.
I am not one of those people.
“But it’s Spain, how can you live in Spain and not want to try the paella, and the gazpacho, and the patatas bravas, and the salmorejo, and the pisto, and the tortilla española, and the…” The list could go on for a while.
The problem is: I am a picky eater. It has absolutely nothing to do with foreign foods - I struggle to find things to order at American restaurants at home. I’m not proud of it, and I’m working to broaden my horizons (one of my goals for this year!), but it’s not likely to magically happen overnight.
However, after a month of grocery shopping in Madrid, I can happily attest to the fact that even picky eaters have nothing to worry about here. Right off the bat, I was able to find and prepare many of the foods I would eat at home - pasta, eggs with toast, peanut butter sandwiches, and turkey and cheese sandwiches (although of late I’ve been opting for the oh-so-very-Spanish jamón y queso bocadillos).
But even after weeks of successfully finding my comfort foods, there was one that still eluded me: my beloved plain bagel with cream cheese. I was determined to find it.
Though rare, bagels are not impossible to find in Madrid. Naturally, I began my quest for them at the Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks coffee shops that are scattered throughout the city. To my dismay, however, the only types of bagels these shops offer are sesame. Being the picky eater that I am, I must have plain bagels.
So, I turned to my good friend Google and found lists of the best places to find bagels in Madrid. One morning, I set off and traversed all over the city, visiting each and every one with high hopes, but with little success. It seemed as though, while bagels themselves are rare in Madrid, plain bagels are non-existent.
And then, finally, at a tiny little cafe called Panela & Co, victory was mine.
The price was steep (6,95€), but I paid it without hesitation and savored every single bite of that glorious plain bagel with cream cheese with pure and overwhelming bliss.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s good advice to spend too much of your time on a foreign adventure in search of food from home. But every once in awhile, I say go for it. Ironically, my quest for a taste of home brought me to many new neighborhoods in Madrid that I had yet to explore. It’s all about balance and finding your happiness - whatever and wherever that is - so go find it!
NOTE: Since writing this post, I have found another café, called Juicy Avenue, that has a variety of bagel and cream cheese flavors for much cheaper prices.