Ancient Bagel Predecessor: Turkish Simit

I'm a big fan of breakfast for lunch. Because that means you can pull off a great sandwich for dinner and raid the fridge with all your heart at three in the morning. Simit, this bagel-esque baked good known by many names throughout the Middle East, is the national breakfast dish of Turkey. A simit spot, Simit + Smith, just opened up near me on the Upper West Side, and boy does my typical Sunday 2 p.m. breakfast have some competition!

Here are a few bagel vs. simit differences right off the bat. Simit aren't cooked like bagels — there's no boiling step. Instead, they're dipped in water sweetened with molasses and coated in sesame seeds before baking, which helps them stay moist and creates a flavorful, slightly shiny golden-brown exterior. Owing to the fact that they're not as thick and doughy as bagels, they contain about half the calories. This means you can feel free to pump up your dipping medium or sandwich filling...hang on, dipping medium? Yes, since simit are slightly harder to make into bagel sandwiches (I'll provide some strategic advice in a second), it's common to tear off pieces and dip them in cream cheese in our neck of the woods and labneh or some equivalent soft cheese elsewhere.

Now, for that strategic advice. If you're going to enjoy simit, pack a few things to dip into — like the aforementioned cream cheese, hummus, tapanade, guac, onion dip, peanut butter. I mean they're just like bagels, but with less mass. For sandwiches, stick to things that will behave and adhere, rather than just slide out, and cut materials into smaller pieces or thin strips so they'll fit inside. Know what's already in strip form? Bacon. A few thoughts:

  • Cream cheese and bacon strips
  • Tuna salad and Swiss slices cut into strips, possibly with bacon.

  • Pimento cheese. Talk about a cultural mashup nobody's really cashing in on. Definitely add bacon to this one.

  • Bacon marmalade and...I dunno, cream cheese? I'm absolutely honing in on the fact that I'm craving bacon and cheese on some kind of doughy ring right now.

  • Pâté and green apples. No bacon only because I've tried bacon with pâté in an overly zealous crime of lunch passion and...don't do it.

The only bad part of simit I can think of is that a simit sandwich won't fit into a CD spindle case for crush-free sandwich-with-a-hole-toting. And when they finally invent 3-D printers for the office, that won't be a problem either.

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