The Jew And The Carrot

Are Turkish Simits the New Bagel?

By Molly Yeh

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy of Simit and Smith

Last week, a new bagelry made a bold move.

A few doors east of the Frank Bruni-approved 72nd Street Bagel on New York’s Upper West Side, Simit and Smith, a shop offering thin Turkish-style bagels called simits, opened its doors.

The company launched its first of 20 stores the same week as a popular article on First We Feast circulated the net bemoaning the decline of the New York bagel.

So could the bagel’s skinny Middle Eastern cousin stand up to the New York original? We had to go investigate for ourselves.

Our initial search taught us that simits are healthier, skinnier and less doughy bagel-like breads, with holes big enough to stick your hand through. One description, saying it was a cross between a soft pretzel and a bagel — two classic New York dishes — made us even more curious.

So we headed uptown. The shop’s sleek and simple design looks like any other hip café in the neighborhood, the walls are decorated with fun facts about the origin of the simit and a few stools are available to sit on while you munch.

The store hawks traditional simits covered in sesame seeds as well as whole grain options and even a square simit for sandwiches, which guests can have with schmear (this is the Upper West Side after all), smoked salmon, grilled chicken or hummus.

With a rather pleasing texture, Simit and Smith’s slim sandwiches are easier to eat than your average lox and cream cheese on a bagel (though they may leave you wanting more grub). What they lack in the sweetness of a bagel, they begin to make up for in the nutty flavor of the sesame seeds that surround it on all sides.

To call simits a “diet bagel” only (they boast a third fewer calories than most bagels) wouldn’t be giving them enough credit, but if for some New Year’s resolution-y reason you’re looking for an alternative to the warm bagel you love, you might get a little sad if you started here. Simit and Smith’s offerings simply lack the personality behind a classic New York bagel. In its rectangular loaf-shaped form, the simit feels simply like a basic chewy sandwich roll.

To say that simits can replace bagels in this city would be like saying that delicate Japanese gyoza and heart Chinese potstickers are interchangeable. They’re in fact not even related historically, says bagel historian and enthusiast Maria Balinksa, who says the two developed entirely independently of one another.

While they might not be a bagel, perhaps its better that they try not to be. We think there’s room for both.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Simit and Smith, Bagels, simit, turkish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.