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Bialy QSL

On a New York City honeymoon long ago, we country mice took the advice of an Upper West Side habitué and ordered bialys with a schmeer at an obscure hotel coffee shop near the American Museum of Natural History. Marginally conversant with bagels, much less these exotic Ashkenazi onion rolls, our appetite was whetted and our expectations inflated to those of children tearing open their first box the latest breakfast cereal. And while the bialys proved to be good -- nothing, not even Lucky Charms' pink hearts, yellow moons and green clovers could live up to our anticipation. Something about the word bialy was primally appealing, perhaps not a little, in our quirky case, because it rhymed with tamale, that fiery slapstick prop of a Latin dish drilled down into our suburbanoid subsconcious by countless Looney Toons and burned-in by over-exposure to the Hot Tamales brand identity at mantinee candy counters from the beginning of time, i.e. the mid-1950s.

So how is this trainwreck of association related to the fine business of ham radio food and drink?

Don't hang up. As an amateur radio operator who likes his carbohydrates and random lore of many lands, we suffered our latest bout of episodic bialy in the bonnet when the K1NSS Official Shoebox of DX QSL cards got knocked off a shelf, pitching a souvenir from the birthplace of the bialy to our shack floor.

Only a year before had researched bialys while putting together our amateur radio graphic memoir Lid, Kid, Space Cadet, which coincidentally depicts, among other things more obviously related to amateur radio, an apocryphal show business legend about Toots Shor getting cold-cocked with a stale bialy. The truth of the legend we never verified, but we did learn from Wikipedia that bialy is short for Bialystoker, that is, from the Polish city of Bialystok -- the QTH on the QSL card that worried the cat that ate the rat that..well, you know, triggered the most recent

Curiously, according to Mimi Sheraton, former New York Times food critic and author of The Bialy Eaters, true bialys were scarcely to be found when she searched Bialystok and other likely overseas venues. Only in certain American cities, primarily New York, did bialys keep on keepin' on.

And then there's Max Bialystock, the very Zero Mostel character in Mel Brooks' The Producers.

And then there's Esperanto, the Language of Peace, developed in the later 19th century by one good Dr. Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof, a Bialystock opthalmologist.

And then there's the handsome City of the World 2009 Congress of Esperanto Amateur Radio Award. On site click Diplom Rules and take a moment to explore the many special ham events at the award's sponsor, Bialystock Technical University.

Time for this Shaggy Dog-faced ham story to come home. Our neighborhood supermarket is the source of the bialys pictured above. We fretted some about these provincial wannabes' lack of diced onion in the center, but finally decided they were close enough for the purposes of would-be gastronomical ham radio info-humor.

Finally, we're tempted to send out for Kossar's Bialys and when we do, we'll add a postscript about what the FEDEX guy delivers. There's a whole lotta chatter about this Grand Street outfit, but sometimes, yes Virginia, like good old Jay Ward animation-launched Cap'N Crunch, such razzle-dazzle proves to be justified.

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Doktoro EsperantoDomo arigato, Doktoro Esperanto.