The hole truth and nothing but

Bagels have been around for quite a while. Created by a Jewish baker in Vienna, they were invented to honour the historic victory of King Jan Sobieski III, who drove back the Turkish hordes from the gates of Vienna. Shaped in the form of a "beugel" - the stirrups that the grateful populace clung on to during Jan's triumphant ride - the beugel evolved into the circular roll that we enjoy today.

With so many flavours and ways of preparing the common bagel it is surprising we don't eat more of them, especially as, compared to the croissant, they are very low-fat.

Traditional bagels have the advantage of being plain in taste so that both sweet and savoury fillings go well with them. The classic is "lox" (smoked salmon) and cream cheese, but you can enjoy them with almost anything. Try cream cheese and strawberry jam if you have a sweet tooth.

Now, new varieties of bagels are available in flavours like onion, cinnamon and raisin, and blueberry. We taste-tested a few different varieties widely available from supermarkets: plain, fruity (the blueberry effort needed more berries in it!), spicy and savoury onion. The Goswells bagel was more chewy (some would say, more traditional) but the Ridleys one had a more bready texture. Our favourites were The New York Bagel Co's, which tasted more like "the real thing". Their best were onion and the plain ("original flavour"). We tasted them all toasted with unsalted butter - the fairest method.

But you don't have to stick to "commercial" bagels. London has many independent bagel bakeries, like Brick Lane's famous "beigel" factory and the 24- hour bakery in Ridley Road Market, Dalston. As with all bread, fresh is best.

The Nosh Brothers' `Winter Nosh' is on Carlton Food Network on Thursday, Friday and Saturday

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