Jewish food really is synonymous with comfort food. Most people know about old fashioned Jewish style chicken soup (with or without matzoh balls) and it’s moniker “Jewish Penicillin.” And of course Jews fondly reminisce about their favorite childhood foods, prepared by their Jewish mothers or grandmothers. These are the comfort foods for generations of Jews — their grandmother’s brisket or bubbe’s rugelach or mandel bread.
My Jewish comfort food is the “Jewish Comfort Bagel” or JCB. You’ll probably see me write a lot about bagels, as they are one of my favorite foods. The JCB is my favorite way to eat them.
A JCB harkens back to a time before bagels became a thing. The 80’s. Before chain “bagelries” started rolling out huge puffy hole-less disks of doughy bread. In flavors like cranberry orange, French toast and the irony-rich holiday favorite, the eggnog bagel.
Although she never called it that, my nanny, Vivian, is the reason for the comfort in my Jewish Comfort Bagel. She lived in Florida with a bunch of other retired Jewish snowbirds, so there were real bagel shops there in the 70’s when I was a girl. She was, by her own admission, a terrible cook, and I’m sure she did not invent the JCB. But she certainly made a pretty fantastic version!
A JCB bagel starts with a real bagel in a savory flavor. My favorite is sesame but salt and everything are great too!
You will also need butter, cream cheese, kosher salt and the best tomatoes you can find, beefsteak or heirloom varieties.
Choose your flavor and toast to a nice medium brown.
Spread with a generous amount of butter. (Yes we are going to go there! Don’t skip this step to cut calories, you would rob yourself of the essence of the JCB.)
Then top with a good schmear of cream cheese. Don’t skimp!
Add your slice of thickly cut tomato.
And sprinkle with salt.
Cut (or don’t) and enjoy! And don’t blame me when you are compelled to eat another one.