This Is Why J. Kenji López-Alt Never Toasts Bagels

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Before there was Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat, there was The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt. Both are New York Times bestsellers and James Beard award-winning cookbooks that explain the basics of really good home cooking. In López-Alt's cookbook, he describes the hours he's spent on Serious Eats discussing techniques and finding the best methods to share with fellow cooks on the website. Six years after his cookbook hit the shelves, López-Alt is now showing fans that he's still just as busy sharing his food thoughts on Serious Eats as ever.

On January 26, he tweeted a link to a Serious Eats post in which he makes the case for not toasting bagels. The caption of the tweet read, "why I never toast my bagel: [link] (Consider this article as a kinda sendup of snooty food culture. Please eat your bagel however you please!)" It's certainly been a controversial stand, though many fans and followers posted in agreement that he does make a valid argument.

According to López-Alt, most bakeries offer to toast bagels because the bagels are downright bad. Ultimately, López-Alt has a single rule in his post which reads, "One Golden Rule for good bagels, it is this: A Good Bagel Shall Not Require Toasting." On Serious Eats, he goes on to explain what makes a good bagel and when toasting might be allowed.

This is why López-Alt is against toasting bagels

In terms of what makes a truly good bagel, López-Alt says it "should have a thin, shiny, crackly crust spotted with the kind of microblisters that you can only get from proper boiling followed by a high-temperature bake." Of course, most bagel lovers already know the inside of the bagel should be soft yet have that signature chew. Otherwise, the bagel might as well be a dinner roll with a hole in the middle of it.

López-Alt goes on to further explain why he dislikes toasting. He believes toasting is a great "equalizer" because it makes both good and bad bagels "taste more or less the same." The only times he approves of toasting is when those who actually really like a toasted bagel do so or when all you have are bad bagels, like those you buy at the grocery store next to regular sandwich bread.

The moral of the story, it seems, is to always look for a blistered exterior of bagels when stopping in a bagel shop and to buy two the next time you go. Try one toasted and one without to see which you prefer more.