Mumbo’s The Word

carryout

The D.C. corner carry out. This one has been most recently named Sammy, but it used to be Sammy’s. Before that it was Granny’s, and before that, Granny’s was Granny’s BBQ. I forget what it was the time before or the time before that. But Carry Out was always part of the sign.

The carry out menu features “Chinese and American food, seafood and sub.” I guess, given the new big sign on the top of the building, pizza, too.

Before the exterior bricks were painted red, it was white. And before it was painted white, it was blue and maybe green. Different names, different facade, same food.

No matter its name or color, the food is always Chinese chicken/beef/pork/veggies that are indistinguishable from each other with rice and a sauce, subs, gyros (for some odd reason, maybe because it’s on the menu generator template that all the carry outs seem to use), fried fish, fried chicken, wings and pizza. Most everything is less than $10 and you can get a 2-liter soda, to boot. They’ll deliver for a fee, but the driver won’t leave his car. You need to come and get your food from the curb.

The carry out takes care of people who don’t usually cook or usually cook but are pressed for time or ingredients. The food itself is filling if not healthy. There is congealed sauce on many of the Asian entrees. The sub rolls are thick and chewy, but without taste. Same with the fried catfish and fries, taste free, if you discount the fat and the salt.

That’s why they have mumbo sauce.

Mumbo sauce is the mainstay of D.C. carry outs. It’s squeezed on the fried fare–french fries, fried chicken and fried fish. It’s an amazing shade of fluorescent orange with more than a little hint of pink. It is not spicy. It’s sweet. If you want to punch it up a firey notch, there’s Texas Pete’s or, increasingly, sriracha.  If you ask me, I’d tell you it was sweet and sour sauce mixed with ketchup. But there are folks who would dispute my cynical recipe.

The carry out condiments are not an accompaniment as much as they are the entire flavor. But between the fat and the salt and the sweet + sour and the spicy all of your natural tastebuds are covered. And you will be full. That’s what a carry out is for.

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