Y&H has received a number of e-mails today along the lines of this one from RW:
I think the Hall of Fame should include those dishes unique or original to DC, of which there are few, like the half smoke or a curious dish called “Fried Good Dale” that appears only in Chinatown. Ben’s dog, Teaism’s cookies, and Richard’s kit-kat are the only three entries that satisfy this criteria.
Sorry, that’s not what we’re after here, RW.
Part of the problem is that we here at City Paper have confused the issue — and by “we,” I really mean The Editors — by using the term “signature dish” in the headline and sub-headlines. The D.C. Dish Hall of Fame is not about selecting the metro area’s signature dishes. Y&H has already written about D.C.’s lack of a signature dish; it would seem silly to try to drum one up now.
No, this contest is about selecting the best dishes D.C. has to offer. The dish doesn’t need to be unique to the area. Think about it: You go to Le Bernardin for the fish even though thousands of other places serve fish. You go there because few, if any, can touch Eric Ripert’s touch with seafood. Same goes for Peter Luger and porterhouses, Louie Mueller and barbecue, Sally’s Apizza and pies. The list goes on and on.
The idea here is to honor the area’s best dishes — the ones you’d be happy to eat yourself or take an out-of-town guest out to sample. The dishes do not have to be wholly unique to D.C. They do, however, need to be good, which is why I refused to put the jumbo slice on the list of nominees. Size, in and of itself, does not make a dish hall of fame worthy.