Unlike most transplanted New Yorkers, I do not pine for the shadowy canyons of Wall Street, the ever-milling rugby scrum of its famed avenues, the night life or the the-ater. I do, however, miss the food. DC proper is not yet a food town, though the food revolution that has shaken the rest of America seems to be peeping through the keyholes. I am probably jaded, having grown up 10 blocks from Zabars, but both ingredients and equipment seem much, much harder to come by here than in New York, and while some cuisines are well represented (the Ethiopian is by far the best in America), others are practically absent (cough-Chinese-cough). But the two most gaping holes in my life are pizza and bagels.
To be fair, this is partly because to a lifelong New Yorker, there is no other sort of pizza than the large, thin, New York slice. We may disagree amongst ourselves about the theological details--crispy or floppy, thick border or thin, sweet sauce or spicy, and how much grease is too much? But basically, we're all in the same church, and it's a highly localized one. Chicago pizza may be a fine foodstuff, as long as one consumes it without trying to imagine that it is actual pizza. But it is no substitute for the One True Faith.
We will, of course, pass discreetly over the Dominosian Heresy. This is a family blog.
But in the area of bagels, the problem is not one of perception; it is one of all too grim reality. Outside of New York, what is called a bagel is almost never a real bagel; it is a round piece of bread with a hole in the middle. It is also a crime against humanity; as one friend said: "Einstein's bagels are so awful, they're anti-semitic." A real bagel, no more than an hour or two out of the oven, has a delightfully chewy exterior surrounding a core of soft, warm bread. It does not cry out to be split open and toasted in order to disguise the fact that the store owner has been using it to check erosion in his back gully for several weeks before declaring it stale enough to sell to the general public.
I have been bemoaning the lack of bagels in DC for quite some time--long enough that a friend just sent me this item from gridskipper, alleging that decent bagels can be found in the DC area. I am extremely sceptical--but not too sceptical to try all eight. I'll report back as I go.