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In some ways, I don’t even know why I’m pimping this year’s Best Food Writing collection, which is due out today. If you’re a die-hard local gastronome, you’ve probably read 10 percent of the book without even purchasing it.
Five of the 50 essays included are from D.C. area writers, including Joe Yonan, Monica Bhide, Jane Black, Todd Kliman, and yours truly. Not to make too much of this showing from local scribes, but let’s do a quick comparison of how the D.C. market fares against those cities with long-established food cultures, like Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. (Forget New York City; we don’t stand a chance.)
Here’s the break down of Best Food Writing 2009 contributors from each city (based on a quick scan of the 50 essays; errors may occur, as they say):
San Francisco: 3
New Orleans: 0 (though John T. Edge does contribute an essay about how the city’s restaurants manage to bridge the gap between social classes).
New York City: I gave up counting after 10.
So what does this say about D.C. as a food city? Maybe nothing. Maybe our writers are just more aggressive about submitting essays to the editor for consideration. Or maybe we live in a town of overly ambitious writers and food has just become a more attractive target on which to focus their considerable skills?
Or maybe D.C. is finally coming into its own as a food town, and the writers are merely reflecting that. That’s my working theory at this point. Care to shoot it down?