Since the start of shelter-in-place, I have watched a lot of bread videos. Most of them fill me with panic (at my lack of life skills), fury (at other people’s apparent ability to structure their time) and shame (regarding the 12 packets of yeast I optimistically purchased at the beginning of this pandemic and the failed sourdough starter currently emitting weird smells in the corner of my kitchen.)
Not so with a bagel-making tutorial released by Minneapolis teenager Adin Zweigbaum, which performs the rare feat of inspiring you to learn a skill without making you feel like trash for not possessing it already. Zweigbaum’s video combines simple instructions, good seasonings and a righteous, back-to-the-bagel manifesto: “For too long we’ve been putting up with these grotesque, vulgar supermarket bagels,” Zweigbaum begins over a soft, psychedelic beat. “Do they think we can’t taste? Do they think we’re pigs?”
A junior in high school, Zweigbaum, 17, is one of YouTube’s younger culinary presences. But his discerning taste goes back over a decade: according to family lore, as a toddler he was never content with mundane baby food, preferring to swipe bits from his parents’ plates. From family matriarchs, he picked up Jewish staples like knishes. But only recently has his mother trusted him enough to cook unsupervised.
“She thought I would make too much of a mess,” he admitted.
In early 2020, Zweigbaum taught himself to make bagels out of the aforementioned disdain for substandard supermarket offerings. And when coronavirus put an end to his school year, he decided to share his newfound wisdom with the masses. He says his bagel-making tutorial is only the first of several YouTube offerings he’s planning. “I’m in my house 24 hours a day,” he said. “I don’t have an excuse not to be putting out videos.”
And in that spirit, he’s already got some advice for aspiring bread makers: It’s all in the arms. “You’re going to knead it until you’re sore, and it’s not going to look pretty,” he said. “But you gotta remember, at the end you’ll have some nice bagels.”
Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.