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Food and History in Washington, DC Pt 3

A Half-smoke at Ben's Chili Bowl
As part of our series on DC foodways we turn to Ben's Chili Bowl. Mahaboob Ben Ali (1927-2009) immigrated from his native San Juan, Trinidad, located near Port-of-Spain  to Washington, D. C. to attend Howard University.  He earned a bachelor’s degree and then started graduate work at the Howard Dental School. He never finished dental school and instead started  Ben’s Chili Bowl in 1958 on U Street in Northwest D. C not far from Howard's campus down the street from the famed Howard Theater a noted stop on the chitlin circuit. Its location between the university and the theater insured plenty of foot traffic and sales of what became Ben's signature menu items: chili dogs and chili half-smokes. Half-smoke refers to a half-pork, half-beef hot dog and it’s a DC thing (DC based sausage distributor Briggs and Company started selling the product about 1930). Ben’s added a chili topping to the dog and made it a favorite of regulars. Over the years, Ben's Chili Bowl has become a must stumping and eating spot for politicians in the pursuit of local and city wide office in the district.

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Metro Washington DC Foodways and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Washington+DC+

Chitlin Circuit and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=chitlin+circuit

Stumping and Eating and Recipes:

Food and Field Work in Guatemala

Food and History in Washington, DC Pt 2