I: Superbia (n.) – unreasonable or inordinate self-esteem; pride.
Pride in the biblical sense is quite different than how it is thought of today. The pride of old was closer to what we would consider a superiority complex or severe arrogance. Arrogance is annoying. For the purposes of pride as a breakfast sandwich, I will be working with the modern definition more in line with satisfaction with one’s achievements rather than hubris. This can still be annoying, but often less mortal.
Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood has a legendary donut shop called Peter Pan. There is an old school vibe to the shop like they know what they’re doing and they’ve been doing it for awhile. The back wall is lined with industrial Bunn coffee makers and the formica counters are mostly filled with customer’s elbows and their plates of donuts. The waitstaff wear the same outfit that is displayed in the front sign: a woman with a turquoise-green dress, pink collar and fringes, and a pink hat to match. The staff quickly fly between the queue that forms at the door, the donut display, back kitchen, and seated customers at the snaking bar that fill most of the space.
Peter Pan has transcended the legendary status of a New York neighborhood joint and has become a bit of an attraction making its way into many lists of top donut shops in the country. They are the big dog on the block and they know it. It’s the type of place where a new customer who comes in can instantly feel that there are some unspoken rules to follow. There was a suggestion of a line system to the mob of folks waiting to order at the front display cases, and the servers definitely had purpose to their buzzing around the shop like bees between hive and flowers. After some jockeying for position and indecision, I ordered their breakfast sandwich on everything bagel and an iced coffee.
As I got my order and left the shop, I walked to nearby McCarren Park to eat what turned out to be the best bagel sandwich I’ve ever had. The bagel was toasted perfectly with the bits of garlic and onion starting to char. Inside was thick cuts of bacon, molten american cheese, and fluffy eggs. This sandwich was so heavenly that I forgot my struggles if just for a few minutes. I didn’t think about turbulence on my flight home as the summer storm clouds gathered. I didn’t anguish over planning my voyage through the subway to JFK, doing mental math on what cash to add to my MetroCard. I ignored the wetness seeping into my jeans from the only patch of fully green grass in the tree shade I was seated beneath. In hindsight, it was absolutely dog piss, as it was over 100 degrees that day, the rest of the ground was bone dry, and a bulldog was looking at me smugly. But I didn’t care. I achieved bagel nirvana, and that couldn’t be ruined.
The bagel itself is a humble food, definitely of Jewish descent and probably from Poland. Like many Jewish foods, there is an honesty and utility with the bagel. It looks like a dense disc of bread and it is a dense disc of bread. No gimmick. A bagel has no bravado or self-righteousness or privilege, unlike the goody two shoes croissant or even the floozy brioche. How then could this bread product fit the original deadly sin? The reason that pride is a bagel is twofold.
First, the fact that this humble bread product makes one of the most simple, most delicious breakfast sandwiches is something to be proud of. Second, New York City baby. Ask anyone where to get the best bagels, and regardless of their response, a New Yorker (or even someone that just moved from a suburb of Dallas to Brooklyn last spring but tells new people “New York” when asked where they’re from) that is within ear shot of your conversation will jump in, regardless of invitation, and let you know a thing or two about a real bagel and how you gotta go to New York to get them. These people are annoying, but at some level they are right; the bagels in New York are just better.
Keep following along with The Seven Deadly Sins as Breakfast Sandwiches.
Avaritia (greed) – french toast (coming soon)
Gula (gluttony) – croissant (coming soon)
Acedia (sloth) – sliced bread (coming soon)
Ira (wrath) – english muffin (coming soon)
Invidia (envy) – biscuit (coming soon)