"The Bagel" by David Ignatow + Avocado Wasabi Bagels

When was the last time you felt unabashedly silly? When did you run down the street, skipping, or scream on a roller coaster, or trip and fall in a public place? Most of the time we're buttoned up, trying to do everything we can to remain poised, but today's poem removes us from all the formality a bit and reminds us of those rare moments when you realize you're in the midst of a potentially embarrassing moment but choose to laugh instead of burrow away. (Also, I must thank Kelsey for sending this poem my way!)
The Bagel

I stopped to pick up the bagel
rolling away in the wind,
annoyed with myself
for having dropped it
as if it were a portent.
Faster and faster it rolled,
with me running after it
bent low, gritting my teeth,
and I found myself doubled over
and rolling down the street
head over heels, one complete somersault
after another like a bagel
and strangely happy with myself.

from Against the Evidence: Selected Poems 1934-1994
Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, Conn.
I've learned many lessons as a home cook, and one of them is that it's ok not to make everything. And not just ok, it's probably preferred. There are some foods better left to the professionals, like croissants, for instance. Now, this doesn't mean you shouldn't try to make English muffins or sushi at home. You should, because then you'll learn your limits, what you care about most, and when to leave it to the experts. You might find yourself incredibly adept at candy making, or you might decide to enjoy your next scone at your favorite bakery.

For this year's Academy Awards I thought it would be really fun, super fun in fact, to make sushi at home (see notes above on lessons learned). I was excited for at least a week, contemplating the ingredients I would use, watching videos that taught me how to make the rice properly, and making my own mayonnaise to spike with sriracha for a splendid spicy tuna sauce. As it turned out, like this year's terribly boring awards show, I was sadly disappointed. The only redeeming quality from the meal was the beautiful piece of tuna we bought. And, the spicy tuna sauce was pretty tasty, too. But the process of making sushi, which in one respect is not that complicated, became one long series of tuna and avocado rolls. Not much variety, poorly rolled rolls, and a general discontentment. So, I'm moving on.

After reading this poem, I immediately thought of spiking some avocado with the remaining wasabi I had purchased for said Academy Awards dinner. When it comes to bagel toppings, you can go in many directions. Cream cheese has never won me over entirely. At best, I'll spread a very thin layer, as if slathering butter, over a toasted bagel. That's it. I also avoid it in any recipe that calls for it when making dips and spreads, which brings me to the wonderful world of open faced bagel sandwiches. This time I kept things simple, but you could add radishes, smoked salmon, a handful of arugula, sliced tomatoes, or even swap the avocado with hummus. And when you eat your lunch, remember the lesson of the man who found himself rolling down the street like a bagel, and don't forget to be "strangely happy with yourself."

I preferred to stay on the mild side and added only 1/2 teaspoon of wasabi to my avocado mash, so simply adjust the measurements to suit your taste.

2 sesame bagels, toasted
2 avocados
1/2 to 1 teaspoon wasabi
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the bagels lengthwise with a serrated knife and toast. Mash the avocado, wasabi, lemon, salt and pepper in a bowl until well combined. Slather on top of the bagel halves and serve.