Einstein Bros bagels are round, chewy breads with holes in the center, and tasty in tandem with sandwich fillings, but have little in common with true bagels. Mostly they lack the proper color and texture -- bagel crusts should have more golden brown crunch to them than these pale softies. And though Einstein's bagels are baked fresh daily, you will never get one warm from the ovens, which is part of the inherent thrill of going to a bagel bakery to begin with. Then there are the flavors, like "wild blueberry" and "nutty banana," which bring to mind Calvin Trillin's sendup of California bagelries where "If you buy a dozen wheat-germ bagels you get your choice of a bee-pollen bagel or a ginseng bagel free."
Yet while I am not enthralled with Einstein Bros in general, I have become an enthusiastic purchaser of their power bagel. Except for the name, this rectangular, hole-less roll doesn't even pretend to be a bagel. The soft but dense dark bread is packed with a litany of wholesome ingredients: whole wheat and wheat barley flours, sunflower and sesame seeds, oatmeal, cornmeal, rye meal, millet, molasses, malt, honey, raisins, cranberries, and walnuts. Some days the power bagels come much bigger than on other days, which has led to my theorizing about two bakers working at different times, one with larger hands than the other.
In any event, they're tasty enough that you can eat them plain, or with butter or cream cheese or hummus or whatever adorable spreads they sell here, but there's really only one proper way to have a power bagel, and that is with a schmeer of peanut butter -- known by those in the know as a PB on PB.
The peanut butter isn't anything special -- tastes like creamy-style Skippy or Peter Pan. But on a power bagel it provides a quick, relatively healthy pick-me-up that costs less than $2 and puts to shame anything else you can get around town for that price (I should also note that Einstein's "darn good coffee" really is darn good). One time, when I was in a free-spirited mood and eager to splurge, I ordered a power bagel with peanut butter AND JELLY -- less pure than the straight PB on PB, but at the same time more exhilarating. So much so that I wrote a poem about the experience, which someday I hope to recite at Wet Olive's ePoetry reading:
cast off your crusty coats and fuck jelly!/
butter ... ooh, butter butter.
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