Seriously, the first time I encountered this word was in HK when I was... 11? and I was at the Central Public Library, and I saw this logic puzzles book, and it posed this puzzle:
"Using three straight cuts, cut a bagel into 7 pieces." [At least, I think this is what it is. I've kinda forgotten.]
Before that, I had never heard of a bagel in my life. When I told SVC, she looked at me blankly, going "Badge-all???"
After I spelled it to her, she burst out laughing, in typical SVC fashion. "OHHHH BAYYY-GUL!!" In all honesty, the word "bagel" sounded so foreign to me.
The first time I tasted a bagel was ... my second day in the U.S., breakfast time at the Summerfield Suites in Parsippany [I think?]. It was so weird, because breakfast was so. Different.
So. Bagels now.
The cliche response is cream cheese.
Then it may be butter. Or bread. Or yeast. Flour. Cinnamon/raisin/"everything"/sesame etc. - all those cliche flavours.
Then PARMESAN! A didn't believe that they existed until I showed her this picture:
And I remember eating them [they're from Costco] a few years ago, but I don't eat them anymore due to the insipid fact that there is HFCS in them... makes me sad.
But I'm okay...because I somehow acquired a bagel CD. No kidding. I don't even know where I got it from, since when I play the CD, it is ... eh, not my type of music, and it's in a language that I do not understand. At all. There's this puppet show on it too [there's a video portion, too, on it].
So I think I'll use it as decoration now, since it has more visual appeal than audio.