When It Comes to the Greatness of NYC Bagels, It’s Not the Water — at Least Not Entirely

Heresy! On Monday, ApppleEats’s New York trivia question, which appears weekdays on our Facebook page, asked readers to name the local ingredient that sets the bagels and pizza made here apart from all others. The answer — of course! — is the water.

Cooks and foodies have long maintained that this magical elixir separates the men from the boys when it comes the city’s unparalleled bagels and pizza crust.

Not so, argues Richard Coppedge, a chef at the Culinary Institute of America. Yes, eau de New York, which has low concentrations of calcium and magnesium, making it softer, does contribute to the singular texture of bagels produced here. But it’s the boiling, Coppedge contends, that makes the bagel great.

From a 2015 article at NPR:

Traditionally … the chilled dough rings are poached or boiled in a solution of water and malt barley for anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. This pre-gelatinizes the starch in the dough, locking the liquid inside of it and expanding the interior. … [I]t’s like flash-frying a steak before grilling it to seal in the juices. The boiling also thickens the crust — Coppedge says it “is essential to produce a more ‘chewy’ bagel.”

There article doesn’t cross over into pizza. Meantime is nothing sacred?