You'd think with all the embassies, consulates and international tools around, one would be able to find any cuisine he or she wanted in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, however, like so many other idiosyncrasies of this tepid swamp town, logic and reality don't coincide. Let's take Russian cuisine, for example. The Russian Embassy in DC is huge. It employs hundreds. Where the hell do these people find the delicious black breads, blini and pelmeni that make up the national proverbial bricks of Russian cuisine? (Mayonnaise, naturally, is the mortar. Not proverbial.)
There is Russia House, yes, but that place is expensive. I'm sure whatever creations Executive Chef Matthew Cordes comes up with are tasty, but there's something so satisfying about eating a $3 bowl of borscht served up from a giant vat made by a woman with tree-trunk legs named Olga.
What makes me even more perturbed is the lack of other post-Soviet cuisines in this city, especially Georgian. The day after Russia rolled (additional) tanks into Georgia, I was in Brooklyn eating what might be the most underrated cuisine on Earth. Since I'm far from a foodie, I'm not sure how to describe what's so great about Georgian food, but I remember falling in love with it in Moscow for its total lack of mayonnaise, its usage of spices other than salt and the glory that is khachapuri.
Khachapuri is almost other-worldly. It's magical. It is so delicious, that it's hard to believe it's made with human hands. In fact, the recipe is so strangely complicated (at least for someone whose idea of "cooking" is opening a can of chili and heating it up) that I'd rather imagine khachapuri as a product of a magical oven that simply pops these creations out when an attractive waiter named Nikoloz takes your order.
And although it's simply a cheese-filled bread, it tastes as if the cheese was made from the milk of some mythical animal raised especially for this recipe and the dough kneaded by democracy itself. So epically good. In fact, in retrospect, I wish I had focused my Master's thesis on the power of the khach, because if I were Russia, I'd invade Georgia to reclaim that delicious sh*t, too.*
Anyway, I savored every last morsel of delicious khach, lobio, satsivi, bazhe, lamb and pork shashlyk and several other dishes because I knew, coming back to DC, I'd sooner run into a beautiful man wearing a slim-fitting suit, than have a choice in meal that didn't involve India, Ethiopia, El Salvador or Chipotle (people inexplicably seem to love that sh*t around here) -- the four international cuisines that seem to dominate the DC market.
This is something I don't understand. I can get a samosa, I can find injera, I can eat several varieties of papusas, I can get a rather sub-par burrito, but tastebuds forbid I find a good clay pot of kharcho in this city.
And it goes far beyond Georgian cuisine and its many different and delicious walnut-based sauces: I can't for the life of me find a decent fish taco in this area. As far as I'm concerned, this isn't just a want, it's a need -- a basic human right, if you will (and you will...or won't, if you're in DC).
Also, may I add, I love hamburgers just as much as the next carnivore, but please, restaurateurs, with the recent openings of both Hell Burger and Good Stuff Eatery, can we put a moratorium on beef-patty-based bistros? One fish taco stand! That's all I'm asking for! And not a sh*tty fish taco like you'd get at Plaza Azteca or Don Pablos, I'm talking about the kind of taco you'd find at a road-side stand while coming back from scuba-diving with your hot scuba-diving instructor outside of Playa del Carmen. I'm not asking for the instructor here, just the taco. This request is not outrageous!
Life is hard.
*Although in all war-nerd seriousness, the Russia-Georgia issue is incredibly complicated and, unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) the U.S., Russian and Georgian media are dumbing it down exponentially, in my opinion, via their respective retardulous biases. The Russian media blames Georgian oppression of Russian citizens in Georgia's breakaway regions (albeit without acknowledging the only reason these "Russian citizens" have Russian citizenship is because the Kremlin magically declared them all citizens of Russia one day); Georgia blames Russia for keeping them down, while downplaying the long-standing issues that have plagued the breakaway regions for years; and the U.S. is stuck in its own partisan clusterf*ck, caring more about framing the issue in terms of the upcoming presidential election. In reality, everyone's to blame and the U.S. is not helping by seizing this opportunity not to diffuse the situation, but to simply use it for political gain. In other words, thanks to our collective ignorance and the complete failure of politics, we're all going to straight to hell. At least those of you in New York, Chicago, San Diego or any other reasonable city can pack some khach for the road...