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Cuisine "Native" to the District


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#1 Kanishka

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 12:46 PM

The City Paper this week has a long article on that tried and true staple of late night Adams Morgan eating, the Jumbo Slice. For those who haven't had the pleasure, the slice seems to me like the Philly Cheesesteak or a NYC street hot dog. And that has me thinking--are there other foods peculiar to DC? I'm thinking about writing a short DCist article about it. Ben's Chili Bowl and the prevalence of Ethiopian food in DC come to mind immediately. Any other thoughts? And how about specialties of other cities? Baltimore has steamed crabs, Chicago has the deep dish...

Ideas?

K

#2 akur23

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 12:48 PM

Any other thoughts? Ideas?

K



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#3 Busboy

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 01:03 PM

DC has basically a southern, heavily black, Tidewater village for most of its existence. There's a strong seafood and soul food tradition here, but we haven't really perfected anything or elevated it to icon status. If you dig in old back yards around town you'll find oyster shells galore; barbecue, southern cooking and fried fish are readily available in a lot of African American neighborhoods; The Main Avenue fishmongers continue to thrive and I suppose politicians and diplomats have been eating steak as long as anyone can remember. But there's nothing that's been handed down for generations that we can claim as our own.

Except maybe that soup.
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#4 mnebergall

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 01:05 PM

There was a thread on city signature dishes under general food topics I think and the subject of DC's signature dish came up. The best they could come up with was half-smokes. Personally, I don't think DC has a signature dish in the way Cincinnati has chili and Philadelphia has cheese steaks.

#5 TedE

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 01:08 PM

Perhaps the somewhat mythical, oddly unclassifiable "half-smoke". Everybody claims to have eaten a "real" one, but I'll be damned if I've ever received a good explanation about what separates them from your run-of-the-mill hot dog.

I would personally cast my vote for "lake trout", although its territory extends up 95 to Baltimore.

#6 Busboy

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 01:15 PM

I've heard the half-smoke thing, too, and I ain't buyin' it.
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#7 FunJohnny

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 01:29 PM

It might be worthwhile to consider cocktails that may have originated in DC since this is a town lubricated by alchohol -- well at least in the old days. I'm not coming up with anything other than the Cosmo made famous by Monica, but perhaps invented elsewhere.

Edited by FunJohnny, 05 November 2004 - 01:35 PM.

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#8 Kanishka

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 01:54 PM

Well, the Willard's Mint Julep is certainly on that list. Had one a few weeks ago--have to say, I wasn't that impressed. Then again, I'm not a huge Mint Julep fan and was hoping for a stainless steel flagon.

K

#9 meatwad

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 03:14 PM

FunJohnny, the Cosmo was outed by Ocean Spray in ads from the 50s to the 70s. The drink we know today starts out when Absolut Citron appeared. (Which is still the best way to make one IMO.) Dale DeGroff popularized it at the the Rainbow Room in NY in the 90s. Carrie and her friends did the rest.

Monica was just swallowing the leader(s).



A big piece of unremarable pizza is hardly idiosyncratic. There's definitely a connection between it and the first 2 unique DC foods that I think of - wings from Yum's saturated with mambo sauce and Ben's. The constant is booze.
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#10 Nadya

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 03:38 PM

Crabcakes?
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#11 BobL

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 03:49 PM

About 4 1/2 years ago the Washington Post Magazine or the Washingtonian ran a contest to try to determine what the signature dish for DC would be. I think that the contest ran for about 4 months and had some fabulous prizes and the best that they could come up with is the half smoke and the Senate Navy beans.

The one thing that I can think of that seems unique to the area in about 40 years of eating in and around DC is the pork chop sandwich. I used to get these sometime when I was working in some of the neighborhoods. What it is is a porkchop, bone and all slapped between two slices of Wonder Bread.

#12 Al_Dente

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 07:35 PM

The world famous Palena burger?
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#13 hillvalley

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 08:54 PM

The world famous Palena burger?

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Nah, it's the roasted chicken.
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#14 mnebergall

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 08:56 PM

The world famous Palena burger?

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Nah, it's the roasted chicken.

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Stay on message. Is there a "native" "signature" DC dish. My position is that there is no such thing.

#15 hillvalley

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 08:59 PM

The world famous Palena burger?

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Nah, it's the roasted chicken.

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Stay on message. Is there a "native" "signature" DC dish. My position is that there is no such thing.

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Channeling Rocks tonight are we :wink:

To get back on topic, I agree, there is no native DC food. I think we should create a native DC meal: Palena roasted chicken with Firefly Parmesan Truffle fries.
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#16 mnebergall

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 09:22 PM

The world famous Palena burger?

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Nah, it's the roasted chicken.

View Post


Stay on message. Is there a "native" "signature" DC dish. My position is that there is no such thing.

View Post


Channeling Rocks tonight are we :wink:

To get back on topic, I agree, there is no native DC food. I think we should create a native DC meal: Palena roasted chicken with Firefly Parmesan Truffle fries.

View Post


I think a "native" dish has to be something that the entire city can pretty much agree is the "signature." I doubt one restaurant's offering can qualify.

#17 butterfly

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Posted 08 November 2004 - 12:14 PM

I think half smokes are valid, if you are talking about DC proper. They are very much ubiquitous. I lived in DC for ten years and saw them all over--at countless block parties, carryouts, community meetings, barbecues, diners, etc. However, you won't find them at all "west of the park."

I'd also nominate the "steak and cheese" sandwich. It can be found all over the city (again I'm talking about DC) at almost every carryout--Salvadoran, Ethiopian, Chinese, Soul Food, Caribbean, etc.

#18 rosebud

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Posted 08 November 2004 - 08:30 PM

For those not in the know, half-smokes are half beef and half pork. Which is why the most famous purveyors, Ben's Chili Bowl, have never actually eaten one. The Ali's are Muslim and never eat pork. THIS is the signature dish, IMHO :cool:

#19 Roger Troutman

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 06:56 AM

I think half smokes are valid, if you are talking about DC proper. They are very much ubiquitous. I lived in DC for ten years and saw them all over--at countless block parties, carryouts, community meetings, barbecues, diners, etc. However, you won't find them at all "west of the park."

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Can you actually buy them in the supermarkets around here? I've never noticed them. Apparently they've been around a long time.
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#20 mnebergall

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 07:52 AM

The half-smokes you see on most of the roach coaches in downtown DC are made in New Jersey by Sabrett. To put it another way, the DC signature dish "half-smokes" are made in another part of the country. I'm reasonably sure that the half-smoke you get off of a dirt-water dog cart in DC will be the same as the one you get on a corner in New York. No, I don't think the half-smoke is a DC signature dish. If we are having this much trouble coming up with a dish that many can agree is DC's signature, then that tells you something right there.

#21 county

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 09:35 AM

The City Paper this week has a long article on that tried and true staple of late night Adams Morgan eating, the Jumbo Slice. For those who haven't had the pleasure, the slice seems to me like the Philly Cheesesteak or a NYC street hot dog. And that has me thinking--are there other foods peculiar to DC? I'm thinking about writing a short DCist article about it. Ben's Chili Bowl and the prevalence of Ethiopian food in DC come to mind immediately. Any other thoughts? And how about specialties of other cities? Baltimore has steamed crabs, Chicago has the deep dish...

Ideas?

K

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The jumbo slice is not a local D.C. staple.I was eating jumbo slices in Mission Beach, San Diego 8 years before anyone thought of it in D.C.. There are several late night pizza joints that offer it out there, where just like in D.C.drunk college kids loiter till 4 a.m. It is quite amazing to me that people in this city actually call it a food item of their own.

#22 Chef Shogun

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 09:37 AM

The City Paper this week has a long article on that tried and true staple of late night Adams Morgan eating, the Jumbo Slice. For those who haven't had the pleasure, the slice seems to me like the Philly Cheesesteak or a NYC street hot dog. And that has me thinking--are there other foods peculiar to DC? I'm thinking about writing a short DCist article about it. Ben's Chili Bowl and the prevalence of Ethiopian food in DC come to mind immediately. Any other thoughts? And how about specialties of other cities? Baltimore has steamed crabs, Chicago has the deep dish...

Ideas?

K

View Post

The jumbo slice is not a local D.C. staple.I was eating jumbo slices in Mission Beach, San Diego 8 years before anyone thought of it in D.C.. There are several late night pizza joints that offer it out there, where just like in D.C.drunk college kids loiter till 4 a.m. It is quite amazing to me that people in this city actually call it a food item of their own.

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Fortunately, we don't.
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#23 Pan

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 10:06 AM

I'm reasonably sure that the half-smoke you get off of a dirt-water dog cart in DC will be the same as the one you get on a corner in New York.

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If you can get half-smokes here, they must be called something else. I can't ever remember seeing any sign for half-smokes in New York.

#24 mnebergall

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 10:15 AM

Perhaps I'm wrong. But I doubt that Sabrett reserves their half-smoke production just for the DC area. I looked at the Sabrett's website and they appear to call them "pork/beef frankfurters." "Half-smoke" may just be what they call them in DC.

#25 Chef Shogun

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 10:49 AM

Fortunately, we don't.

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.........or DO we?

Edited by Chef Shogun, 09 November 2004 - 10:49 AM.

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#26 butterfly

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 05:39 PM

I've never seen Sabrett's for sale in the grocery stores in DC, but there were other brands like Briggs that are widely available. I don't know anything about the carts downtown... don't they boil their dogs? Halfsmokes are meant to be grilled.

#27 Chef Shogun

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 06:01 PM

I've never seen Sabrett's for sale in the grocery stores in DC, but there were other brands like Briggs that are widely available. I don't know anything about the carts downtown... don't they boil their dogs? Halfsmokes are meant to be grilled.

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Dunno. Until recently I thought they smoked them, but only partially. :raz:
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#28 spaghetttti

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 06:03 PM

I've never seen Sabrett's for sale in the grocery stores in DC, but there were other brands like Briggs that are widely available. I don't know anything about the carts downtown... don't they boil their dogs? Halfsmokes are meant to be grilled.

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Last night I received a care package of Sabrett's purchased at Pentagon City's CostCo/Price Club, however, they're skinless - still yummy!
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#29 spaghetttti

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 06:10 PM

I remember half smokes from back in the day. Juicy, flavorful embedded with whole mustard seeds that explode against the tongue like...errr... caviar. :cool:

Are half smokes not found in other cities?
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#30 Chef Shogun

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 07:23 PM

I remember half smokes from back in the day.  Juicy, flavorful embedded with whole mustard seeds that explode against the tongue like...errr... caviar. :cool:

Are half smokes not found in other cities?

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As far as I can tell, where there are dirty-water hotdog carts, there are half smokes.
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