If, like me, you’ve have spent hours of your life on TikTok watching videos of other people making dinner, you’ve probably come across a little vial of joy known as “everything but the bagel” seasoning.
It’s mostly featured in posts from the US as it’s available from the grocery chain Trader Joe’s, a brand which still somehow has yet to make its way to UK shores. But as I swiped through clip after clip of people adding it to everything from scrambled eggs to pizza, salads and stir-fries, I felt a growing need to track it down for my own culinary endeavours.
For the uninitiated, the seasoning is the product of another American phenomenon, the “everything bagel” – it’s the classic golden hoop you’d find in any good deli, but with the volume turned up thanks to a generous coating of salt, pepper, dried onion and garlic flakes, and sesame and poppy seeds.
While there are conflicting accounts over the exact origins of the everything bagel, the most popular story credits it to David Gussin, who worked at New York’s Howard Beach bakery in the Eighties.
“I was cleaning out the oven [and] sweeping out the seeds,” he recalls, according to NPR. “Instead of throwing them out, I swept them out into a bin. The next day, I said, 'Hey, instead of throwing them away, put this on a bagel and call it the ‘everything.’” He adds that while he and his colleagues thought they were just “being cute”, customers went wild for the creation, and a whole new genre of bagel was born.
The seasoning encapsulates the flavour of the cult baked good and distils it into a shakeable combination that works – according to the good people of a certain video app, at least – on basically every savoury dish imaginable, and then some. So, I went on a hunt.
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The gamechanger: The Good Bagel everything bagel seasoning, £4.99, Amazon – Buy now
Unable to source the popular Trader Joe’s original in London at a reasonable price (it’s also on Amazon, but for £13.99, if you’re interested), I ordered Kent-based brand Condimaniac’s more affordable version, the good bagel, instead – and I wasn’t disappointed.
My experimentation with the good bagel began at breakfast; a quick sprinkle on eggs, roasted tomatoes, and avocado, all of which got an instant, enthusiastic thumbs up in terms of both taste and texture (the subtle crunch of the seeds gives added interest to each mouthful).
Buoyed by this early success, I googled other uses, and can now confirm that it’s just as excellent on potatoes, pasta, noodles, soups and dips. As a vegetarian, I can’t personally vouch for adding it to meat dishes, but dozens of others do – and it almost goes without saying, given its roots, but pizza and bread doughs would also benefit hugely from its punchy, salty hit.
The ingredients are unashamedly straightforward: black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, minced garlic, onion, sea salt flakes and poppy seeds, which is essentially the same as Trader Joe’s mix, albeit in slightly different quantities. If you’re feeling frugal, you could absolutely bulk buy the same components and combine them yourself to save money in the long run – but let’s be honest, the large majority of us probably won’t bother, and, in my books, the 150g jar is still a fiver very well spent for a dusting of extra excitement in your regular meal repertoire.
That excitement is not to be underestimated in the context of the pandemic. Reports from the first lockdown showed a sharp spike in the number of us cooking from scratch and trying new recipes, but given that we’ve now been doing this for almost a year, and that the majority of restaurants remain closed for the foreseeable, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to make mealtimes feel inspiring.
While there are, of course, far greater problems facing the nation than the prospect of another bland meal, this seasoning is a small change that, for me, made a big difference to the mundane blur of “ugh, this again” dining. Indeed, most of the Amazon reviews on the product are recent, indicating that I’m not alone in looking for this type of simple-yet-effective mood lifter. “With many things in life muted by lockdown, this has added a real lift to the start of my day,” writes one earnest five-star fan.
If this resonates for you, give the good bagel, or its sister product the bad bagel, which comes with the addition of fiery ghost pepper, a go. After assessing the rate at which my own personal supply is disappearing, my next step will be petitioning Condimaniacs to launch a regular subscription – perhaps you can add your name?
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