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Posted at 10:39 AM ET, 01/ 3/2011

Does D.C. have its own cultural identity?

By Tim Carman

kojo113.jpgThat's the question several guests, including The Post's Blake Gopnik and yours truly, will attempt to answer when we appear on today's Kojo Nnamdi Show.

The question, of course, is loaded, largely, I think, because it's often leveled by those many transients who sponge off D.C. for a few years (mostly in NW) and complain loudly that we have no identity. Personally, I've explored this question from a dining perspective at my previous place of employment. I had even started a D.C. Dish Hall of Fame so tourists and transients alike could begin to understand the food that long-time Washingtonians hold in esteem. (Like most public votes, however, the contest rewarded a contender that wasn't yet ready for prime time.)

But like most of the big questions in life, this one won't be answered by a small group of talking heads gathered around a microphone. It'll require public input. So be prepared to call into Kojo with your own thoughts and opinions.

The show airs at noon today on WAMU, 88.5 FM.

By Tim Carman  | January 3, 2011; 10:39 AM ET
Categories:  Chefs, Media  | Tags:  Tim Carman  
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In my opinion, when you are talking about a "local dish" it needs to be something that multiple vendors and restaurants can offer their own take on. So, for NYC's pizza, Chicago's hot dogs and deep dish pizza, and Philly's cheesesteaks, there isn't just one place to get it, but rather a bunch of places that battle for the title amongst residents as the best in the city.

It looks like your list is almost entirely signature dishes by one restaurant. Yeah, Ben's half smokes are good, but that's the only place to get them, same with picking out anything exclusively offered by the other restaurants on your list. Burgers from 5 Guys, Rays, BGR, Elevation, etc., etc. are one option, but DC isn't likely going to be known as the Burger Town any time soon. You have something there with Peruvian chicken, though, given the number of different places selling their take on it: El Pollo Rico, Super Pollo, Mi Peru, Crisp and Juicy, etc. So, my vote for DC's food identity goes to Peruvian chicken.

Posted by: MStreet1 | January 3, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

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