Is Washington a great food city?

July 12, 2013

Anytime 'Washington' and 'food' are mentioned in a sentence or story, heated discussions tend to ensue. The New York Times bashes our sandwiches and pizza? We are reminded of the gourmet take-outs and late-night counters we love. The state of mumbo sauce can spark city-wide discussions. Doughnuts? Two months worth of testing and tasting. Cupcakes? Well....

So when WP Magazine set out to publish a comprehensive food issue, the hope was to spark a meaningful conversation about what and how we eat, and how that reflects the culture of the city.


Russell Ventimiglia prepares an order of District Wings with mumbo sauce in the kitchen of the Hamilton. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post)

Mark Furstenberg kicked things off by asking: Is D.C. a great food town? Responses have been mixed. Some have agreed that the lack of clearly identifiable traditions has negatively impacted the development of our modern cuisine. Others feel the diversity may be a strong point.

 

Jessica Sidman of Washington City Paper and Sam Hiersteiner for the Huffington Post filed lengthy rebuttals yesterday, both arguing some of Furstenberg's premises are dated.

Sidman wrote:

I have a lot of respect for Furstenberg and his contributions to the food scene, but his piece does not give D.C. the credit it deserves. It repeats old tropes about how characterless and pricey Washington is, while dismissing or skimming over the many, many exceptions.

Here's Hiersteiner:

On the subject of restaurants, I think Central Michel Richard, CityZen, Palena, Obelisk and Vidalia are great places to eat, but Furstenberg again looks rooted in 2003 by not mentioning places like Komi, Little Serow, Bourbon Steak, Fiola, Range, Ashby Inn, The Source and Mintwood Place.

What do you think? What's central to Washington's food scene? Or what is it lacking? Join the debate here.

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