Friday, November 14, 2008

Thinking in the City

We had walked for hours already, but my legs felt light and independently powered as I clambered up the stairs of the Lincoln Monument. Step after step, one after the other, the gravity of Lincoln pulled me upwards until I stood in front of him once again. Two people faced me, posing in front of Lincoln's statue for a picture. Together, they formed an interracial couple. Watching them smile and embrace before Lincoln, my eyes fevered to happy tears.

This summer, SWW turned 30. To celebrate 30 years of my friend's existence, I put together an autumnal trip to Washington, DC for a long weekend visit. That visit finally rolled around this weekend, and we were able to bask in the golden light of fall while the frees flamed in color around us.

This city never fails to delight all the senses.

I went to college in this city, and while here, I worked at a florist where delivering flowers was occasionally part of my job. Because of that, I know my way around the city pretty well. However, my brother puts my DC-familiarity to shame, as he still lives here and previously worked as a bicycle courier—no one knows one's way around a city like a bicycle courier. But for these four days, much of the city appeared new to me. I think even my brother, as he spent most of the weekend with us, occasionally saw this city with fresh eyes. Entire neighborhoods had reblossomed in the decade since I had lived here, and streets that had once been sketchy to walk down in the evening, now hopped with upscale nightlife. The shiny, newly healthy neighborhoods gleamed in the autumn sun; this weekend's weather, combined with the city-wide excitement over our recent election, made neighborhoods appear noble and government buildings downright regal.

(When I write that the city is excited over the election, I am guilty of a huge understatement. The city is purring loudly, thrilled with itself and its future.)

While many things have changed, some things about DC and my responses to it have stayed the same. I cannot spend time here without thinking. I visit museums and think. I visit galleries and think. Monuments. Gardens. Historic sites. Wandering through this city and its sights reminds me of my responsibilities to the world, in the smallest and largest sense. Let's put it this way. Who can spend hours in the Holocaust Museum without forcing herself to face what she should have, could have, would have done if caught in the middle of the death of over 6 million innocent people? It's pretty easy to say what I should have done, a little harder to say what I could have done, but terrifying to say what I would have done. And facing that, finding the weaknesses and doubts in myself that are easy to hide in a comfortable world, forces growth. Yes, this city houses corruption, injustice, and greed, but it also offers forgiveness, opportunity, and tools for transformation. Just as the city constantly metamorphoses itself, it is constant in its ability to inspire metamorphosis.

As Washington, DC encourages individuals to think about their place in the political world, upon visiting the city an ardent eater (like myself and presumably you as well, as you're taking time to read a blog named A Thinking Stomach), will examine his or her place in the food world as well. The nation's capital is home to some darned good eating, and much of the best of that eating is locally grown and produced.

In Washington, DC, eating is as political an act as any other.

If you'd like to learn more about Washington, DC's food and food culture, I encourage you to explore the following sites. You'll find beautiful recipes, remarkable foods and beverages, and inspired ways of thinking about food's connection to policies and politics.

The WHO Farm: The White House Organic Farm Project
Future Harvest: A Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture: Sustainable farming practices in the DC area.
DC Foodies: The Politics of Dining: A blog about eating in the nation's capital.
DC Area Farmers' Markets: Check out Dupont Circle's market for wonderful local produce, meats, and cheeses. This time of year, you'll find at least 20 varieties of apples alone.
DC Area Breweries: Get good beer locally.
Virginia Wine Country: Virginia isn't just for lovers, it's also for some great wines.
The Slow Cook: A blog about choosing food thoughtfully in Washington, DC.


Anonymous said...

WOW. Washinton D.C. deserves every good thing said about it. I love the pictures that you took. My favorite is the picture of the one way street. =) Amazing. I hope to visit one day. Thanks for this post.

Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

I love DC, Christina, and so many of the things you photographed are reasons why. And what a cosmically perfect time to be there! Thanks for the lovely post.

Anonymous said...

I'm off to DC for a visit too in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the tips!

Also, I'm putting the Dog beans in the mail today. If you don't get them in about a week, let me know and I'll bring more when I come to the US in December.