Monday, April 18, 2005

Allerbeste eten van Amsterdam

Identity is such a fluid concept. It is perhaps the biggest-- if not the biggest-- questions that each person asks himself, yet which answer proves to be the most elusive.

We try to define our identity by reference to categories: "I am Republican"... "I am heterosexual"... "I am American"... "I am church-leader"... And indeed, perhaps this provides some semblance of a framework, a starting point. But it seems to me as though it is an exercise in futility.

No sooner can you define yourself as a person than can you proclaim the best food in Amsterdam. In just a short ride from the Oost to the Pijp, I pass a Polish-Russian restaurant, a Balkan bakery, a Japanese sushi-bar, a Chinese supermarket, a Turkish fruit stand, an Indonesian take-away, a smoking coffee shop with a decidedly Jamaican motif, the quintessential American McDonald's, and a smattering of classic Dutch cafes and generic Middle-Eastern shoarma joints... I'm sure that there are restaurant guides that try to distill the Amsterdam restaurant scene into a single, consolidated listing of the best overall restaurants...

But doesn't that seem silly?

Even if you take it on the level of "Best Polish-Russian Restaurant in Amsterdam"-- it just seems like a worthless classification... and besides, which restauranteur is going to put that plaque up on their wall?

No, I am convinced that there must be a better way to define personal identity...


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