The NYT series on what troops from around the world — now stationed in Afghanistan — get as rations made me stop and think about what a Washingtonian would receive if they were stationed elsewhere and wanted a taste a of home.
The British Menu No. 14 has a bacon omelet with beans; Poland’s military food ration is all about the beef Goulash. Are we weird/distinctive enough to warrant Meal Ready to Eat Menu No. 202? I think so:
Jumbo Slice: Large slices of pizza may be ubiquitous throughout the country, but in the District, the sheer size of the slice in combination with the county fair-quality dough, puddles of grease and a local’s commitment to eating something he/she KNOWS will make him/her feel bad the next day make this a regional specialty. I mean, look at the size of that thing.
Half-smoke: Many would clamor for Ben’s chili half-smoke to be the perfect example of this artful beast, but anyone who has cooked their own sausage knows a good hot half-smoke needs only to be burnt around the edges and served with a slathering of mustard. MAYBE white onions. Ben’s has become such a tourist draw that a chili half-smoke is a more likely candidate for a tourist MRE, which would also be festooned with Chipotle and Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s nothing against the Shaw institution, but people with fanny packs aren’t really putting it on for the DMV.
Falafel: Adams Morgan and U Street NW have numerous late night shawarma, falafel and gyro spots, but falafel gets the nod because I have yet to see anyone leave Amsterdam Falafelshop unimpressed. The Euro-themed vegan outpost is a must for anyone searching for cheap, late night eats and booze absorbent. As one friend stated before heading out on his birthday: “I don’t care where we go, as long we end up at Falafel.”
The G-Man: I once thought D.C. was not a sandwich town. After trips to the Parkside Deli in Silver Spring and Taylor Gourmet in Northeast, I found this was not exactly the case, but still had trepidations. But a Southeast carryout with the least convenient hours ever (7-3 M-F) by itself changed my mind. Yes, D.C. is a sandwich town. Mangialardo & Sons’ G-Man stacks Italian meat and cheese with basically whatever else you want on delicious bread. Hmm, this MRE is starting to get a little bulky.
Cupcakes: Though it pains me to say this, at this point most people would agree cupcakes are the top dessert in D.C., and G-Town Cupcake is the tourist dessert destination. Then those same people would talk about how it already happened in New York and blah, blah, blah. I’ve never had one; I crowd sourced this entry. My pick is the humble…
West Virgina Peach: We are spoiled in D.C. with amazing farmers markets. The one at Eastern Market occasionally draws farmers from as far away as South Carolina. But ol’ West Virginny delivers the most succulent Peach one can imagine, sure to be an overseas soldiers’ fruit choice during the warm months. In colder weather, Honeycrisp apples from W. Va. or Pennsylvania will do.
Single Black & Mild: Would there really be any other way to finish this 13,000 calorie meal than with a single harsh cigar outfitted with a plastic tip? No, no there would not be.
Update: I realize now there are a bunch of omissions, but I tried to be reasonable designing this MRE. Honorable mentions go to Injera (Ethiopian bread), some sort of Maryland Blue Crab extract, Julia’s Empanadas and many others. May be a part two in the future.