Friday, March 26, 2004

The long flight home

I staggered into SFO well in advance of my 8 AM flight home. Knowing that breakfast on the plane would somehow involve a circle of turkey Canadian bacon, I decided to grab a bite to eat in the terminal. And what did I see before my homesick eyes? Noah’s New York Bagels.

I’m a bagel snob. Seattleites are coffee snobs. Texans are BBQ snobs. I’m a bagel snob. I’ve had the best – Murray’s Bagels in NYC. I’ve had the worst – Lender’s frozen. And now I had my first chance to sample Noah’s REAL New York bagels right there in SFO! With excitement in my heart, I stepped up to the counter...

Look, I can’t even fake it. I knew from the start that these bagels were going to be crappy. I won’t pretend otherwise – there was no bagel boiler there. I didn’t even see a bagel steamer. Bagels MUST be boiled before baking. It gives them that chewy texture inside and crispy shell. I expect that Noah’s bagels were parbaked before shipping. It also didn’t help that the Real New York street sign above the concession showed us at the corner of Delancey St. and Shittybagel Blvd. But I wasn’t about to try the turkey Canadian bacon, so I got my standard poppy with cream cheese.

Surprisingly, it was crappy. There was no segue between the bagel’s core and its crust. None. It was like a piece of bread with the crust cut off. It wasn’t very toasty at all, and it certainly wasn’t worthy of the fine bakeries along Shittybagel Blvd. in Lower Manhattan. New York bagels my ass.

You know what really instills a sense of calm on a flight? Well, I’m going to tell you. United calls my group number to board the flight home. I get on, head down to my seat (576C – it’s a widebody), and all alone in the back row, three guys are sitting there. They were clearly boarded first. The guy in the middle looked like Jeff Leonard, and he was wearing a hooded SF Giants sweatshirt. His hands were hidden inside his I looked back, and he glared angrily back at me. The two men who flanked him were chatting a bit too cheerily on their cell phones.

So we’ve got prisoner transport, and we’ve got what turned out to be a violently bumpy flight for most of the trip. The movie was “School of Rock.” My Archos ran out of batteries after about 30 minutes. The guy next to me had elbows and knew how to use them. The flight attendants were scolding people who got up to use the can. The lunch consisted of a box with chips, a pinky-sized Toblerone, a packlet of raisins, and some “genuine cheez” crackers. Now THAT’S good eatin’. I nearly broke into the emergency box of honey-oat bars they kept in the overhead storage “for use when the delay is longer than two hours.”

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