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TRANSPLANTED IN TEXAS

Jersey bagels take the prize at a Texas farmers market

By B.A. Belthoff / The Bulletin

Recently my family and I walked to a local farmer’s market for a little fresh air, sunshine and exercise. We wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Little expeditions like this won’t be possible in a few weeks’ time when the temperature soars higher than the Empire State Building.

This market is a really good one. The vendors sell everything from fruits and vegetables to eggs and meat. One woman was even selling dirt. Yes, dirt. Don’t you just love that in America, you can earn a living selling dirt?

I started chatting with the woman under the beef tent. I wondered how far she had traveled with her coolers to sell her products. She took the time to explain it wasn’t that far – just a couple of hours – and launched right into how her meat is better.

She told me how the meat tastes better because she takes great care in what she feeds the animals and is very particular about where she sends the cattle for slaughter. After caring and raising the cattle, she wants to make sure they are treated in the best and most painless way possible.

I appreciate that there are farmers and ranchers that work extremely hard to provide our food, but oh dear, I could never do that! I’d be too attached, and every animal would have a name and a pretty name tag, too. No, if it were up to me, the human race would starve or go vegan.

Didn’t you see those cute baby calves, pigs and sheep that were just born a few hours before the rodeo began? Even they had names!

The longest line at the farmers’ market was for, are you ready? Jersey Bagels! I’m not kidding. I stood back and watched as the line got longer and longer.

My kids sometimes refer to me as the mayor because I have no trouble starting a conversation with a complete stranger, whether or not they want to talk. Maybe that’s a Jersey thing, too. Without hesitation, I walked right up to a family in the middle of the line and asked, “Have you had these bagels before? Are they that good?” Of course, I knew the answer to that one, but I was so curious.

“Yes, these are fabulous bagels,” the mom said. “They are so fluffy. Whenever I see them at a market, I get them, because you can’t get bagels like these anywhere else.” I knew that, too.

I was glowing – or maybe it was sweat. The sun was coming through the clouds.

“Are you from New Jersey?” I asked.

“Oh no, I’m from right here in Texas,” came the reply. I wanted to hug her, but I really was sweaty.

The couple standing right behind this family was from New York. They, too, had heard of these bagels. They told me they were waiting for their storefront to open. The owners, I found out, are from New Jersey – as suspected. I’m also looking forward to going to their store when it opens up. It seems they already have quite a following.

I’m betting these bagels are really good. I can’t claim they’ll be exactly like a bagel from New Jersey because the elevation and water are different, but If you find yourself traveling to New Jersey this summer, you’ve got to find your way to a bagel shop.

At the counter, place the following order: Taylor ham, egg and cheese on an everything bagel with s.p.k. It’s what every self-respecting New Jerseyan would order! (Translation: Taylor ham is what we call pork roll, and s.p.k. is salt, pepper, ketchup – you know ya’ gotta’ have the ketchup!)

Perhaps I’m feeling a little nostalgic, but it’s comforting to have a little bit of New Jersey, right here in Texas.

(New-ish Texas resident B.A. Belthoff welcomes your comments. You can reach her at babelthoff@gmail.com.)