Bagel Guillotines and other delights

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Visiting Zabar's on Broadway in Manhattan is one of my rituals on my regular visits to New York. Louis and Lillian Zabar opened the grocery store in 1934 and their sons, Stanley and Saul continue it and are often seen working in the shop. Downstairs there's the cafe, a massive cheese department with free tastes and cramped aisles of high end biscuits and the like. Upstairs is what I basically see as an adult toyshop, choc-a-bloc with every kind of kitchen gadget you can imagine, and many you would never have imagined. I go here on every visit to have a play and marvel at the bizarre inventions to supposedly aid life in the kitchen. Actually, many things would probably interfere with it and add to the washing up but I can't fault them for being creative.

Take, for example, the 'Bagel Guillotine'. Cutting a bagel in half is generally something that can be done, with a decent knife, in three seconds, but here we have a device for doing it. Why would someone wish for this guillotine? Is it because they feel their bagels are aristocratic? Does it demonstrate a certain cutting edge style to visitors to their kitchen?

Then there's the onion goggles for that on the beach look. I have actually heard of these before but never have I been presented with such an array of varieties of onion goggles.

A 'Turkey Lifter' is a new one on me. Presumably this is an accessory for a cooked turkey, not a live one, but we could experiment. I think, in Britain we would probably use a pair of large and dangerous-looking forks to lift the turkey onto the plate but I'm presuming the Americans don't want puncture wounds in their fancy Thanksgiving centre piece. The tagline 'safely maneuvers a whole turkey and keeps it intact' suggests this is what it's about.

Then there are the items that give away the American obsession with eggs. In Zabar's you can buy moulds that fashion the fried eggs into shapes that would appeal to children – skulls, one-eyed monsters, etc. I, and probably most British people, would find an egg-based meal not something worth paying for as it's something even the least able in the kitchen person can make, in seconds, virtually blindfolded. Here in New York it dominates most cafe menus with its funny little phrases to accompany – 'eggs over easy', 'sunny side up', 'over medium', 'over hard'. I once witnessed a baffling complaint from well-dressed woman in a cafe – "I asked for medium over easy and you've given me hard over easy", she whined. They took her plate away and had another go at it. (Incidentally, I once stood behind a similar-looking woman in a frozen yogurt shop who made the complaint that she had asked for the "vanilla on top of the coconut" and not the other way round and demanded she have a new one. I wasn't able to keep quiet on this occasion and asked her this was a power thing to which she replied I should mind my own beeswax, or words to that effect.)

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Read about the Zabar's story here...  and apparently this is the best place for eggs in New York - 


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