Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Diana Takes a Bite of the District: Crepes from the Sweatiest Man Alive

To celebrate the long Labor Day weekend (which to many people signifies the end of summer and ability to wear white clothing), I flew to Washington DC to visit my best friend from college. The celebration was more about spending quality time with my dear friend Ashley than spending time thinking about the end of summer and summer attire, but we did make sure to get in a solid shopping session at the Georgetown Anthropologie to purchase some bold colored clothing. We know how to commemorate a new season in style. And we also know how to commemorate a weekend with good food.

Because travel and eating go together like peanut butter and bananas, prior to my cross-country trek, Ashley prepared an itinerary that was chock full of activities and food outings. On Saturday, my first full day in the District, we would go to "Eastern Market for the famous crepe stand and good/interesting shopping." ("Good" equals funky jewelry hand-crafted by an artist, or adorable country-style tea pots and flatware. "Interesting" equals tacky clothing and earrings that look like they came from the bargain bin at Claire's Accessories at the mall.)

When I first read "crepe," I wasn't sure it sounded like a particularly enjoyable thing to eat in 80+ degree heat. It sounded even worse after walking a mile to the Metro stop that would take us to the bustling Eastern Market, and even worse after seeing the long line of people standing in the beating hot sun for their crepe fix. Of course, because I was raised right and know that guests should always be grateful for everything the host/hostess does for them, I tattoed a semi-permament smile on my face and prepared my belly for a steaming hot savory crepe.

As we settled into our place in the seemingly never-ending line, I contemplated the options on the make-shift menu by the side of the crepe stand. There were sweet crepes stuffed with walnuts, chocolate, oreos, and other cavity-creators, and savory crepes filled with cheese, egg, turkey, spinach, tomatoes, etc. The choices and combinations are enough to keep a person occupied the entire length of the line (unless you have an "in-the-know" friend who will tell you what to order). Without (much) hemming and hawing, Ashley and I both selected the #3 with egg, gruyere cheese, tomato, and basil for $8.

After putting in our orders, I kept myself entertained by watching the man behind the famous stand as he made each person's crepe. Though I was hot, uncomfortable and tired of waiting in line, it made me even more uncomfortable seeing how hard the crepe man was working. Lines of sweat oozed down his forehead as he expertly folded and flipped the delicate French pancakes. I squirmed thinking of how hot it must be to stand over the burners as a line of impatient hungry people watched my every move. I sort of hated myself for being one of those people. But not enough to stop me from taking a picture of the action.

When our crepes were finally ready, the crepe man handed them to us in paper cones, which we proceeded to cover further with paper towels. The scorching sun was no match for these scorching hot crepes that threatened to burn our hands through the flimsy paper. Ashley and I grabbed some beverages (an Orangina for her, an Honest Tea Mango Acai Iced Tea for me) from the Marvelous Market nearby and then settled down at a nearby table to eat our lunch.

As I bit into the soft folds of my crepe, Ashley's description of the famous Eastern Market fare echoed in my head -- "It melts in your mouth." Her words were so spot-on, I'll echo it again here -- the crepe truly does melt in your mouth. So much so that I'm inclined to make the crepe the new burrito. If there were enough crepe stands in LA to rival all the taco stands the police keep trying to shut down. And if I could transport that sweaty crepe man across the country. He'd be right at home underneath the California sun. (Until the Health Department shut him down for improper hygeine near the food preparation area.)

1 comment:

Ashley said...

I wouldn't lead you astray!