Street Food Culture

Whether they like to admit it or not, my office is full of foodies. Or at least lunchtime foodies. The people I work with, young and less young, nearly all have a tight grip on the nearby lunch places and their ups, downs and other redeeming qualities. They don't always show excitement about these places, but there was definitely a little buzz when we heard about the upcoming G Street Food. But why blame us? When a generic, mediocre fast-food Italian lunch place (Ecco on G Street near 17th NW in DC) is being replaced by the new, novel, and delicious concept (street foods from around the world) of the founder and former owner (Mark Furstenberg) of arguably the area’s best lunch place (The Breadline on Pennsylvania Ave near H St NW), a lot of folks will pay attention.

And there is definitely some curiosity about this new joint opening in August. Just how wide will he spread his cultural wings? The article above mentions a lot of European-influenced street food, which is a great start. But it would be criminal to leave out Asian and Middle Eastern street foods, including Chinese, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli. They're all incredibly rich and diverse in their street food and I'm sure there are street delights from these cultures that I haven't even heard of yet (but hope to). Between Chinese dumplings, Indian samosas, shwarma bowls, Middle Eastern cheese and meat pies and falafel, these cultures' most popular street foods even translate to the streets of New York City. Not to mention the classic New York, Jewish street food, knish.

In this country, New York, New Orleans and Chicago have incredibly rich street food heritages. Not a coincidence, in my opinion, that these three cities probably have more character than any other US city I’ve been to. DC could use a little more character. Not that forcing street food into a lunch place will give DC culture, but G Street Food could at least make us strive for that level of richness and community that street food culture can bring to a city. For a city filled with people from all over the globe, sometimes it feels like we’re all trying to be the same instead of proudly celebrating and sharing our differences. But I’m just asking for small steps. Mr. Furstenberg will certainly have his work cut out for him with so many street foods to represent, but he could be in for a welcome surprise if the closet foodies, closet New Yorkers and closet cosmopolitans of the DC area open up and embrace the spirit that he is subtly hinting at.

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