The atmosphere at the JC office is bubbling with outrage. And it's all over a bread product. A bagel to be specific. The new kosher bagel from Warburtons.
Although, most of my esteemed colleagues do not believe this product — subject of a high profile advertising campaign - is anything like a bagel.
This is just a roll with a hole. True bagels need the right consistency. The crust — shiny and the right shade of dark gold/brown; the crumb — dense, a little sweet and extremely chewy. You need some major mastication where these babies are concerned.
Daniels, Carmellis, Hendon Bagel Bakery, Orli, Yummies and many other kosher and Jewish deli bakeries all produce the real deal. Treats for the teeth that tick all the right boxes. It's an artisan product that doesn't do well if mass produced.
And the evidence is borne out by this latest attempt by an industrial baker. Another pale imitation - limp, too soft and the shape just a tad flat. And don't me started on the size of that hole...
I'm sure that outside the Jewish/foodie/NY expat community no one will notice, but to many of us, this is an abomination to artisan bread everywhere.
And making NY icon Robert de Niro the product's poster boy doesn't help. He may be a New Yorker but I'll bet he's never tasted one of these 'bagels' - or bread rolls as they really are.
I decided to give it a chance and test it myself, putting it up against a genuine bagel (from Jewish deli, Yummies) and another of the supermarket imposters - the NY Bagel version. Each was split and buttered - although the Warburtons one comes ready split. Perhaps to save the British public from multiple cases of 'bagel hand' - which is much like avocado hand, just doughier.
The mini Fressers and Mr Fresser were then invited to do a blind tasting. Although an admittedly small focus group, they were unanimous in awarding only one (the Yummies one) genuine bagel status. However, interestingly, the smallest Fresser — a lazy chewer — enjoyed the Warburtons version the most and said that was the one she'd like to find in her lunchbox.
It made me realise that bread snobbery aside, there's a place for the mass-produced version. Especially a heschered product. And that's as an easy lunchbox filler or for those times you can't get to a kosher bakery.
Just don't believe they can replace the traditional bread that has travelled from shtetl bakeries and stood the test of time.