Sunday, January 04, 2009

On eating in DC

Though much of this blog is dedicated, as one commenter points out, to my "utter preoccupation with injustice seeking," sometimes even us journalists with pretenses of fighting the power need to eat. In fact, over the holiday break eating is an activity I engaged in at least twice, with varying results.

Good Stuff Eatery
Started by a failed cable "reality" cooking show contestant -- which makes liking the place that much more difficult -- this Capitol Hill burger joint is actually quite good, from the potato bread rolls to the assortment of mayos to dip one's fries in. On my second trip there this past week, the owner, "Chef Spike" himself, was in the house having promotional photos taken (complete with his trademark fedora). So far, so good. However (and you should have seen a "however" coming), about 10 minutes into enjoying my burger my girlfriend and I were asked by a photographer to relocate, immediately, so she could take some pictures of Mr. Spike looking cool -- on top of our table. Not being a terribly fussy person, this normally would have been fine with me. Just one thing: there was no place else on the first floor to sit (despite the fact that said photographer redirected us to a table with one -- count it -- one seat), meaning we were expected to take our half-eaten food up a flight of stairs. Weak. Instead, we inhaled our remaining burgers and fries (not as good as the burgers) and left.

All that said, I'll probably still go back. I'll just hate myself for doing so.

Busboys and Poets
A local coffee shop/restaurant with a penchant for progressive politics (where in August I interviewed former U.S. senator Mike Gravel concerning the case of Sami al-Arian for a story published by Inter Press Service), this past Sunday I attended a screening there of the documentary "Tulia, Texas," which recounts the story of a small, rural town where 46 men and women -- 39 of whom were African-American -- were imprisoned based on the word of one undercover narcotics agent who had an outstanding warrant and a reputation for habitual lying. The event, co-sponsored by "A.C.T.O.R.", a community group dedicated to dialogue on issues of race, was packed, a hopeful sign that more and more people are beginning to see the folly of the so-called "war on drugs". However, the packed room also meant getting any food or drink was a bit of problem.

Nonetheless (and after 30 minutes of waiting), my girlfriend was finally able to speak to a waitress and order some food, a chicken salad sandwich and some chili, both of which were delicious. Paying the check, however, induced major irony in light of the racial awareness theme of the night. While one might suspect such an event to be so politically correct it bordered on conservative satire, the bringing of the check was a moment in decidedly non-PC irony, for instead of listing my girlfriend's order by her table number, the receipt (viewable here) described her only by her race: Asian. Though not malicious and actually kind of funny, the incident is a reminder that, despite the claims of some of the more deluded that the election of Barack Obama has ushered in an era of post-racial bliss, many continue to view others as a member of a race first, and a person-with-a-name (or a table number) second.


After this post, I assure you I'll be back to issues of, you know, importance. Unless, of course, this post gets more hits than my writings about Palestine or U.S. foreign policy, in which case this blog will be dedicated to restaurant reviews and cute dog pictures from here on out.

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