I think the cool thing about Washington DC is that it has such a wide and diverse array of cuisines. I think at first, I was a little skeptical of DC because of its relatively small size to New York City. (Yes, I am aware that I sound obnoxious! But that’s really how I feel-what can I do?) But so far, I’ve tried three different cuisines that I’ve never had before in the span of a month and a half: Filipino food, Laotian food, and Ethiopian food. All of these restaurants were located in a neighborhood called Columbia Heights.
Columbia Heights is interesting because it is a place that is becoming gentrified, but is not totally gentrified yet. It reminds me a lot of my hometown, Queens. On one hand, I pride being from Queens because of its multitude of delicious and authentic ethnic cuisines, but it is sad to watch my home become homes to swanky new restaurants and rich, white Americans looking to capitalize on “cheaper” housing. Columbia Heights is exactly that: on one street, you can see a local DC version of a NY bodega and next to it, you can see a hot new yoga studio that advertises a class for $75. On one street, all you will see are black and brown faces, and then on the next block, they are young, white professionals. The juxtaposition was a bit spooky, for sure.
Washington DC is notorious for its rapid gentrification. I can’t help but think about this a lot and even feel guilty about it. Coming from a neighborhood that is victim to gentrification in New York, I can’t help but feel hypocritical for encroaching on a city that I know nothing about. Sure, it’s not invalid of me to look for cheap housing as a student that makes virtually no money– but at the same time, I wonder if there is a way I can be more mindful about the space I take up in a city I am an outsider to. Is a solution to this even viable? I don’t know. But these are questions I ask myself, especially because the possibility of me living in Washington DC post-grad is very likely.