Gluttony hits the streets at Taste of D.C.

Taste of DC

Oct. 7, 2000

1:20 p.m.

Eating. Americans love it, and because practice makes perfect, we are extremely good at it. According to a report issued by the National Center for Health Statistics, 49 percent of American women and 59 percent of American men are overweight. Our national pastime may officially be baseball, but I am the first to admit that the ball game is just an excuse for the true American pastime: feasting. Who would go the games if there were no $7 hot dogs to be purchased, no nachos to be dipped?

Dining is our national talent, something that should strike pride in the hearts of all Americans. We are a country of champion eaters. We dine in, we dine out, we even drive through – Americans will go anywhere for a good meal. But during Columbus Day weekend the cuisine came to us, in D.C.’s 10th-annual food fest, Taste of D.C.

Taste of D.C. is a three-day-long international food, music and art festival held on Pennsylvania Avenue between 9th and 14th streets. More than 40 D.C. restaurants brought samples of their fares to sell to hungry District residents and tourists alike.

After working up an appetite at the Aids Walk, which took place earlier that day, my friend Laura Deveraux and I decided to test out what Taste of D.C. had to offer.

In order to purchase food, customers have to buy tickets. They were sold in bundles of eight tickets for $6. The average entree` cost about eight tickets, snacks and deserts were five or four, and beverages cost three tickets each. Armed with sixteen tickets, I headed into the battleground of little white tents, all competing for customers, to see which could best tempt my appetite.

And tempt me, they did. It was a feast that would make any American proud! The dining delights included almost every type of dish that anyone’s heart could desire. Baby back ribs, she (snow??) crab soup, sesame chicken, cheese pizza, chicken marsala, funnel cakes and even fried green tomatoes were among the choices.

The scents were unbelievable. The aroma of fried onions and steak made me nostalgic for my Philadelphia cheesesteak capital home. The grilling of hamburgers and hot dogs made the crisp October day smell more like a Fourth of July celebration.

But after much deliberation and some down-right soul searching, I decided on a chicken gyro followed by the famous Italian dessert, Tiramisu. Both were utterly fantastic. Large servings of each were dished out by very friendly restraunteers. The Planet Hollywood tent offered an Ebony and Ivory Brownie, which in the name of racial harmony, I was forced to taste. It was oh so heavenly.

Around me hundreds of people were enjoying the same food mecca that I was. We lined the streets sitting on curbs, steps, benches and everything else with flat surfaces devouring our meals as if eating was going out of style. Parents pushed strollers with one hand while clenching cheeseburgers in the other. Loved ones picked food off each other’s plates, ensuring they made the most of their dining experience.

The food prices were fair for the quality, but bringing drinks to the event is a good idea – three tickets for a bottle of Coke seemed a little too expensive for my tastes.

Along with the food was the Global Village Crafts Bazaar, which featured a great deal of African art, photography and much more. One stand, African Connection, sold pictures made with banana leaves by children in Zimbabwe. Bands playing tunes that ranged from hip-hop to South African to Swing provided background music. Some of the weekend’s artists included Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and The Temptations.

The international music, art and food created an exotic and exciting ambiance that delighted all the senses.

It would be hard to imagine anyone leaving Taste of D.C. with an empty stomach. We like to eat and at Taste of D.C. we got what we like. A new American motto was uttered when a fellow taster passing by me explained to her friend, Scientifically speaking, no one has ever had to save room for funnel cake.

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