Here’s proof: Montreal bagels are out of this world
FAIRMOUNT’S BEST ABOARD SHUTTLE Montreal- born astronaut has 18 sesame from his relative’s bakery
The famed Fairmount bagel is reaching new heights thanks to an astronaut with a yen for that distinctive treat.
It seems Montreal-born astronaut Greg Chamitoff, who began a six-month stint aboard the International Space Station yesterday, was quite excited about the idea of floating in space with the comfort of the chewy, slightly sweet variety of bagel this city is famous for by his side.
When NASA officials asked Chamitoff for a favourite food to take aboard space shuttle Discovery, he picked the humble bagel as his preferred snack for the flight.
And not just any Montrealstyle bagel, but 18 sesame bagels from his relatives’ Montreal Fairmount Bagel, which usually competes with St. Viateur bagels a block away for the crown as the city’s best.
“We’re just thrilled,” said Mona Shlafman, his aunt, who reopened the bagel factory in 1979 and with her late husband got the old wood oven burning again.
The baking gives the bagel a charred surface, and the gloss comes from being dipped in hon- ey or malt-sweetened water.
She recalled that Chamitoff was raised in the Chomedey district of Laval and attended Crestview Elementary before his family moved to the United States when he was 11.
His yen for the Fairmount bagel developed from care packages sent to the U.S. and the times he visited the Canadian Space Agency in Longueuil, his cousin, Rhonda Shlafman, said.
“When we used to visit in California we would bring (bagels), and when they would visit for the holidays they would come to the bagel factory.
“His favourite is the garlic bagel, but I didn’t dare send garlic bagels – they would have stunk up the whole place.”
There is no freezer on board the Internation Space Station and most food has to be dehydrated or vacuum packed, she said.
But the astronauts were given some liberty to fulfill a “wish list.”
Shlafman said she answered his request by sending samples.
“They wanted to see how long they would last so I sent a few different flavours. He settled on the sesame.”
That made sense since the sesame variety lasts longer because of the natural oil in the seed that keeps the bagels moist.
“I sent four six-packs but only three six-packs made it into space.”
The people from NASA first said he could only have “seven pieces” on his food tray.
“But I sent 24 bagel figuring there would be some extra for his colleagues and the ground crew. Whoever wanted to eat them, would eat them.
“Then he emailed me that he was allowed three six-packs and was very happy.”
She sent them to Florida on Friday, the day before the launch.
Chamitoff will be living on the space station for six months, but Shlafman said yesterday: “I’m sure the bagels are gone already.” What about the cream cheese? “They may have taken some, but I never asked,” she replied.
And what about those messy seeds that always end up on your lap?
“They’re going to be floating, I guess, because they won’t fall.
“Maybe the astronauts will go around licking them out of the air.”