Culturing the milk is only part of it


It may appear to the casual reader that I disrespect PAX by writing about its paucity of schmear on bagels.

As someone devoted both to bagels and also grammar, I must quickly confess my own transgression by using a noun (“disrespect”) as a verb — even an informal Google search results in a clear if unwitting remonstrance of this use as “informal” and therefore is an abomination unto me — but this crime is nowhere near so foul as turning incentive into incentivize and then into “incent” as a verb. As in, “Let’s incent this ornery New Yorker into coming to PAX by offering him a token schmear on his bagel, and then maybe he won’t disrespect us by writing about us so critically. Bless his soul.”

Interestingly enough — yet I digress still from schmears and bagels because, again, grammar is just as important as these foodstuffs, and even more damage can be done by using poor diction than can be done with under-schmeared bagels; the pen is indeed mightier than either the sword or the butter knife — a cursory look at the use of “incent” via Ngram (a blessed feature of Google) shows this curious trend since 1800 (in printed pieces):


It’s clear that around the time of the War of 1812, Americans needed to incent the freed colonists to once again fight the Lobsterbacks. It’s also clear that merely the use of this word, incent, kept the war mercifully brief and resulted in a concomitant and precipitous drop in its usage. It had served its purpose and was put out to pasture.

Until the Civil War when, once again, the (grammatically manipulative) Powers That Be decided to resurrect the word to get us to fight each other. We Yankees were more concerned with calling people “Johnny Reb” while we sipped our formerly English tea, so as a result of being incent-ed the northern tea drinkers sent the freed slaves and poor whites down South to do their dirty work. (Tea drinkers were equally incent-ed in later wars.) With the Civil War concluded and the North writing the post-mortem, we once again put incent on mothballs until the 1980s, when the Gordon Gekko’s of America found ways to incent us to buy bonds with adjectives like “junk” as modifiers. Apparently, many of us since 1776 have welcomed being incent-ed, even if it involves fighting a Crown we liberated ourselves from, beating on the crowns of our cousins, or losing all our crowns on one day in late 1987.

And “crown,” believe it or not, brings us back to bagels and schmears.

My humble request of Kerrville eateries is to make their own cream cheese (comprised in part by culturing milk) and slather it generously on a bagel made with water not from around here.

I know this is asking a lot.

But I recently met a woman who works at a Kerrville business on Sidney Baker and who grew up in a mid-South state. Her mother owned a bakery. The mother was originally from Long Island, and the business would ship in water from out of state to make their bagels. Their bakery was apparently very successful.

How can I incent y’all to do this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *