Many New Yorkers tend to be creatures of habit. They get up at the same time every day, get dressed, shower, and head to work. Terrible traffic, bad weather and just about anything else that can go wrong are simply part of the morning experience. It’s accepted as a trade-off to living in the greatest State, in the greatest Country in the world. Of course, that’s all opinion but ask any New Yorker where they would love to live and 99 out of 100 will tell you, New York. Well, at least close to that number.
As one of the millions of New Yorkers, I have a daily morning routine that I rarely alter. I wake up early in the morning and before I do anything, I head out the door and get breakfast at my favorite bagel store called Smithtown Bagels on Long Island. Im a Manhattan-born, Bronx-raised New Yorker, but like so many others, I now live on Long Island just an hour from New York City in a fantasy world of no traffic. (It’s usually a two-hour commute and close to three when it’s raining).
There are many reasons why I go to Smithtown Bagels. Of course, one of the reasons is that after having been raised on bagels my entire life(name a New Yorker who hasn’t) Smithown Bagels stands out for me as the best bagels in New York. For me, their everything bagel is my favorite with onion coming a close second. I get my bagel and coffee and then sit in my car with my newspaper and spend at least ten minutes for what may just be my favorite part of the day. Some people may meditate, jog, walk, or see a psychologist to find a moment of bliss or peace, I read a newspaper with a bagel and coffee listing to WFAN on the radio for ten minutes, and all becomes well.
If you’re looking for me, you will know where to find me every morning at 6:00 am in the same spot. That will never change. One time, on one of those dark winter mornings, I even had two very scary characters who looked like they just broke out of prison try to break into my car while I was in it and attempt to do who knows what. I simply just dropped the shift into drive, and floored it, getting away rather easily. I came back the next day because no one is going to take that moment of bliss away from me. That’s what New Yorkers do. All hell can break loose, but the next day we return to our routines. We don’t scare easily.
A PERFECT NEW YORK MORNING
As I said, what I do every morning is a common experience shared by millions of New Yorkers, at their local delis, bagels shops, bodegas, food carts, train stations, 7-Elevens, Stewards, dinners, or wherever they get their morning fix that starts the day. That’s the New York way. This morning, my New York way became even more New York than I could have ever expected it to become.
It was raining hard this morning so I made sure to put on my New York Yankees Baseball cap when I got out of the car to go into the bagel store. It was not too busy and no one was at the counter. As I waited for someone to come out of the back, I heard my name called. I peeked through the circular glass window on the kitchen doors and saw Seth Wilkenson who owns the store calling me to come into the back. Now some people may not feel it’s a big deal to go into the control center of where the masters create the almighty bagels, as most people just call it a kitchen, but for me, that’s a special moment.
I was greeted by Seth and Hussein aka(Freddie) who were smiling and seemed to be having a good time. They stared me down and pointed to the work counter. On the counter was not a bagel, but a few slices of some pretty good looking pizza. Seth pointed to me and then the pizza and asked if I wanted a slice. Without hesitation, I said, “Yeah.” The two broke into applause letting me know that I was the first customer to actually say yes to a slice of pizza at 6 am. I didn’t think it was a big deal. Who says no to a slice of New York Pizza? Did it really matter what time it was? This was a classic New York cheese slice from a pie that was given to them from the pizzeria next door. Seth then took the pie and heated it up in the bagel oven. You know what I am saying.. right? A slice of New York Pizza warmed up in a New York Bagel oven. The two perfect New York foods coming together to create a taste of New York that would have made Al Pacino proud.
I stood in that glorious kitchen having a slice of pizza with my friends Seth and Freddie whom I have been buying my breakfast from for years. The bacon was frying on the grill, the eggs perfectly simmering, the smell of the bagels filled the air as I watched two hard working people filling orders for hungry New Yorkers that won’t accept anything less than a great breakfast New York style. Pizza and bagels. It’s the reason why every born and raised New Yorker will tell you they will never leave. They’re not lying. Here I was having both of them at the same time with my New York Yankees hat on celebrating a life as a New Yorker that I will never give up.
Try finding a bacon egg and cheese on a roll or everything bagel with fresh cream cheese anywhere outside of the New York Metro area. It’s not happening. They don’t know how to make bagels outside of New York. It’s all supermarket-style bagels when you leave the NY Metro area. And why no one can figure out how to make a great bacon egg and cheese on a roll as they do here, I can’t understand. I was in Paris one year and it seemed all they served was chocolate croissants for breakfast. Try finding a good bagel in Ohio or South Carolina, your not going to find it. I have asked so many places around this country and world for a bacon egg and cheese on a roll in the morning and all I ever heard was “we dont make that here.” Uggh! New York Baby, this is where the best morning food in the world begins and ends. The greatest place in the world. Kojak knew it, Andy Sipowicz knew it Mayor Koch knew it, Spike Lee knows it, Aaron Judge knows it, Daryl Strawberry knows it, Seinfield knows it, Paul Simon knows it, Billy Joel knows it, and of course above all, Joe Namath knows it. That’s what I’m talking about baby!
As I was leaving the bagel store, I made sure to get my everything bagel and large coffee I headed to my car after saying goodbye to Freddie and Seth thanking them for sharing a slice. I went to my car, opened the paper, put on Boomer and Gio on the radio, and stared out the window into the rain and snow thinking…… a perfect New York Morning!
A Perfect New York Morning article published on ClassicNewYorkHistory.com ©2023
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