Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eating and drinking in and about Washington, D.C.

1. No link because I don't think they have an actual website, but the empanadas* cart at the Downtown Holiday Fair thing at 9th and G is very meh. They're not awful, per se, but they're not good either. The dough is like weirdly too thick or something. Although I am admittedly spoiled by visits to Chile and Argentina, the empanadas I made based on a Cooks Illustrated recipe were better, and that without masa harina. So, hrumph.

2. On a better note: although apparently this was already amply written about elsewhere, Meatballs is actually pretty good. Or, at least, the polenta is nice and creamy, and the meatballs with marinara sauce are warm and lovely and filling on a cold day. It is apparently supposed to be a sort of Italian-influenced version of Chipotle, and both share the vice of serving only giant portions that are hopelessly more than a 5'0 woman should ever try to consume in one sitting. Also, don't naively ask for a bottle of water without thinking about it. That is, they offer only expensive Italian bottled water that can only be opened with a bottle opener. Luckily, there is a bottle opener in my office's kitchen, but I found it only after some annoying rummaging.

3. There is a newish libertarian non-profit in town called Keep Food Legal that had a fun fundraiser on Saturday night. The El Chilango tacos served are yummy; recommended.

4. This is an interesting and thoughtful post about culture, and I agree with the general point about the subtle ways in which cultures work. But I'm a little bit surprised by the meal example. That is, I think I've routinely observed plenty of upper-middle-class types eagerly downing everything on their plates at dinner. My biggest eater friend is a lawyer's son grown up to be a Jesuit priest. He's been running marathons regularly since he and I first met in college, and he apparently needs the thousands of extra calories to keep himself powered up. I've noticed other people who love upper-middle-class-ish sports eat with the same voracity, although perhaps not quite on the same scale.

There's also the phenomenon of the "Om om om, must devour as much free food at cocktail reception as possible!" instinct, which I confess I haven't fully grown out of myself. But in my view, that's an age and lifestyle thing -- a relic of being a young person from a relatively comfortable background growing up and with plenty of cultural capital, but temporarily in a stage of their lives where cash for groceries and dining out is relatively tight. Many of my friends who went through a similar law/grad student/intern stage of life seem to have the same instinct.

So, blog friends, is there a class signal here that I should be noticing? If I'm trying to impress bigwigs, should I be making a point of politely and delicately not finishing dinners?

* No tilde because I can't figure out how to do this on this computer; sorry, hispanophone friends!

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