FOOD: My Column Philosophy


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Falls Church Times Staff

February 12, 2010

A few months ago I wrote about an Armenian coffee shop called Arax Café in Arlington, prompting a commenter to question why I would talk about an Arlington establishment in an online newspaper about the City of Falls Church.  I emailed him an explanation and it was later posted in the comments section of that story by the commenter.  In essence that response was a hurried version of my “column philosophy.”  Since then, I’ve still occasionally gotten comments that suggest a level of irritation when I feature a place outside of the City boundaries.

A snowed-in week is as good a time as any to give a more well-thought-out version of that philosophy, which I feel Falls Church Times readers have long been entitled to.  I think it is important for you to know where I am coming from, how I go about choosing a place to review, and why there are certain places that I tend to avoid writing about.

My food column is unique and challenging to write when you consider the circumstances.  I am attempting to write relevant, timely stories every single week about a relatively small area with a relatively small population and only so many restaurants and markets.  To think that I could keep my column fresh by focusing only on City establishments is absurd.  And, honestly, I think it would make for a pretty boring column.  Just going a few miles outside of the City boundaries every once in awhile allows me to talk about so many more places and cover so many more cuisines.

Also—and this is crucial—I want to write about places that have memorable food.  Finding great meals trumps geography ten times out of ten for me (within reason of course—I’m not about to venture into Maryland or anything).  I would much rather write a column about a place two miles outside of the City with fantastic food than a place in the City that has average food.  I am not a promoter of City of Falls Church restaurants.  I promote places that I think are worthy of a visit for a City of Falls Church resident.  Many of those places are in the City.  Some are not.

Many of those places are also ethnic restaurants.  I choose to write about ethnic places often because this area has great examples of many cuisines and because I want to broaden people’s horizons.  It seems silly to me to write reviews of beloved City restaurants like Argia’s, Clare and Don’s, and Anthony’s.   I’d much rather profile a gem like Rabieng, tucked away off Route 7 and not far from the City at all, or a place in the City like Indian Spices, which sees little business but has some great imported stuff.  I want City residents to think outside the box a little, to step outside of their comfort zone and try some new things right in their backyard and right in their neighbors’ backyard.

The Falls Church Times is an online newspaper dedicated to the City of Falls Church and its readers want to read about all things City-related.  I understand that.  But when it comes to eating out I believe a little flexibility is in order.  That’s why I write every single story through the lens of the City of Falls Church, but not necessarily about a City-based establishment.


February 12, 2010 


5 Responses to “FOOD: My Column Philosophy”

  1. Michelle M. (Falls Church City) on February 12th, 2010 12:06 pm

    Jimmy – I enjoy and look forward to your articles and don’t feel annoyed when you cover restaurants outside of the City. We are of course, but 2.2. square miles, so you run out of options at some point! You’ve done a great job of reviewing some places right here, but I appreciate hearing of the places nearby. I enjoy your columns, how descriptive you are, and how you tell it like it is… good, bad or ugly. Our City restaurants certainly have my dedication and support and I hope that many more come to the Little City. Our places have a lot of character, good food, and great company. I’m looking forward to better weather so that I can venture out to them!

  2. vlfrance, City of Falls Church on February 12th, 2010 12:43 pm

    I agree with Michelle and just want to chime in my support!

  3. TFC on February 12th, 2010 3:14 pm

    Ditto, keep ’em coming

  4. EMT, City of Falls Church on February 12th, 2010 9:54 pm

    Beautifully articulated, Jimmy. One more perspective: I like the fact that you review establishments outside of the City’s boundaries. Based on your observations, we City residents can then cherry-pick where we spend our hard-earned dollars in surrounding areas. As for what we have within our own boundaries, I’m with Michelle. I appreciate and actively support what we have in the City. As far as I’m concerned, supporting City businesses is easy. Just do it.

  5. Michael H. Snyder on February 13th, 2010 9:25 am

    Jimmy – I just hope that your editors and public fully appreciate your writing and discernment skills. I fear our time to enjoy is limited – you are just too good at what you do to not have a much larger audience one of these days. Good luck and keep up the great work. Mike