What are the things that set one place apart from another? Many things, maybe. Climate and weather. Language. Music. Politics. And yes, food. Food can be both a divider and a unifier. People may argue over whether their cuisine is better than another region's; but ultimately, great food brings people together.
I've heard a lot of theories about the biggest food differences between the far-flung poles of this country. It's been posited that here in the Northwest, people are more passionate about beverages (coffee, beer, etc), while those on the East Coast have a greater interest in sandwiches (hoagies, cheesesteaks, grinders, what have you). But in my experience, the most striking difference of all is teriyaki.
If you've been to the Puget Sound area, you know that teriyaki joints are ubiquitous - maybe even more so than coffee shops. You can't throw a chopstick around here without hitting a teriyaki place. But on the East Coast, there are few if any dedicated teriyaki establishments. Hardly any! It's so striking. You can get teriyaki at some Asian restaurants, but usually only as an entree, and usually in the $15-20 range. Which I call bullshit upon. Because what is teriyaki? It's a humble cabbage salad, a mound of white rice, steaming sliced meat, and sauce. (And a pair of chopsticks, ha ha.) If you pay more than $7 for a teriyaki lunch in Seattle or Tacoma, you're getting jerked off.
And that's the way it should be. On this one issue, the East Coast has it all wrong: teriyaki ain't some glamorous dinner entree! It's a hot, delicious, affordable, high-sodium lunch.
You know, people, I have a theory: the Northwest runs on teriyaki. You could take away all the coffee and all the beer, and people would grumble, and they might not function so well in the morning, and they might have a harder time unwinding in a bar after work. But you take away teriyaki, and everything collapses. Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon, the great universities and institutions of learning, the Seahawks, Bill Gates, Dale Chihuly: all gone without teriyaki. Let's hope we never have to see that theory put to the test.