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PRODUCT: Simit, The Turkish Ur-Bagel

If you’ve been to Turkey, you’ve probably eaten a simit or two (called gevrek in some parts of the country). They are one of the national breakfast foods of Turkey, baked fresh throughout the day in neighborhood bakeries and sold to the public by food cart vendors (or simply from a tray carried on the vendor’s head!).

Simit falls somewhere between a roll and a bagel: the crumb is less dense and less moist than a bagel crumb, and the exterior is more crusty. It’s coated with lots of sesame seeds: It isn’t simit without the sesame seeds, which deliver texture, flavor, lots of fiber and heart-healthy linolenic acid and omega-3s.

Simit, which has been called the “Turkish bagel,” is popular in parts of the Middle East, Greece amd the Balkans. And Simit + Smith, which launched last month in New York City, is hoping they’ll become as beloved in America…


Have your turkey and Jarlsberg cheese on a simit. Photo courtesy Simit + Smith.


Not just as breakfast food, served plain or with jam or cheese and a glass of tea, as in Turkey. Simit is easily Americanized into a sandwich and an anytime snack. It’s the next imported food waiting to be discovered. With fillings from classic Middle Eastern (black olive paste and kasseri cheese) to classic American (smoked salmon and cream cheese), they’re a hit. The Nutella and banana sandwich is a revelation.

And who knew that tea grows in Turkey (in the mountains in the north)? The tea at Simit + Smith is so delicious—floral and honeyed—we wanted to buy the foodservice-size bag (which isn’t for sale…yet).

With half the calories of bagels and a no sugar (yes, there’s sugar in most bagels), we hope that simit becomes trendy and then a fixture in America’s multicultural food scene. You can check the expansion on the Simit + Smith website.


Smoked salmon on a simit: No bagel
required. Photo courtesy Simit + Smith.


If you’ve traveled a bit, you may have encountered simit by other names: koulouri in Greece, gevrek in Bulgaria and Serbia, gjevrek in Macedonia and covrig in Romania, among other names. (In Turkish, gevrek means “crisp.”)

Simit’s size, crunchiness and chewiness vary slightly by region. If you like things sweeter, head to Devrek, where the simits are made with molasses.

If you’re passing through Manhattan, head to the Upper West Side or the Financial District and have a simit or two (here are the locations). All the sandwiches are delicious, and the Nutella and banana is a must-have.

If you’re full, get it to go.



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