Given my obsession with all things edible, it's hardly shocking that my initial forays into the working world involved food service. My first official 'real job' was at an ice cream shop and my second was at Bob's Bagels, a now-defunct bagel bakery that at the time was the only place in central Pennsylvania (save chains like Bruegger's or Dunkin' Donuts) where you could get fresh bagels.
Bagel aficionados and/or those familiar with traditional New York-style bagels would have probably scoffed at Bob's versions, which were over-sized, chewy almost to a fault, and made of dough that too closely resembled regular bread. But they were hand-rolled (I know 'cause I rolled 'em), boiled appropriately, decorated with traditional toppings, and to me, most excellent. Especially the sesame ones.
I first became acquainted with what some refer to as the 'holeless bagel', the bialy, through Mimi Sheraton's terrific and well-researched monograph, The Bialy Eaters. A bialy is similar to a bagel in texture but is only baked (not boiled beforehand) and the inner depression serves as a lovely well for poppy seeds, onions, and/or garlic. You can thank the Third Reich for the fact that bialys have virtually disappeared from their country of origin thanks to the systematic murder of thousands of Jews (including bakers) from Bialystock, Poland, once the epicenter of bialy production. Fortunately, bialys did not go extinct as Jewish immigrants to New York reproduced their own versions from family recipes passed down through the generations. So, suck it, Nazis.
The Hot Bagel Shop makes a mean bialy liberally sprinkled with poppy seeds and toasted garlic. Eating one plain is pleasurable as you really appreciate the simplicity of the soft, yeasty dough contrasting with the piquant nuttiness of the seeds and garlic; however, halved, toasted, and coated with butter makes for a richer, borderline divine experience.