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19 Catt. 1: In re DC Ballers

2013 April 3

JEREMY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Cart, in which CATTLEYA, J., joined.

One sunny but blustery morning in early Spring, we granted cartiorari on the question of the poutine at DC Ballers (“DCB”). My peculiar penchant for the Canadian slop is well documented, see In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 4 (2011), andour clerks had heard wonderful things about DCB’s poutine. We awaited DCB’s poutine with great anticipation.

And so it was with some degree of shock and dismay that we found a menu affixed to DCB’s vehicle sans poutine. Nevertheless, having already positioned ourselves before the mobile gastronomic enterprise, and presented with a menu replete with other fried-potato offerings, we resolved to put our dreams of poutine behind us and forge ahead in our judicial duties, granting cartiorari instead on the question of “Greek Fries.”

Greek fries, as the name might suggest, pairs feta and oregano with seasoned fries. The presentation is a brown lunch bag, oil-stained.

DC Ballers

DC Ballers


Our first inquiry always is to determine where the burden of proof lies in a particular case. This Cart has long presumed that, absent grievous error, “street food” should be affirmed. See In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012). Street food is defined by this Cart as “the kind[] . . . that can be cooked in front of you and [is] meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up.” In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011).

This Cart has held that many things constitute street food: sandwiches, tacos, etc. However, this Cart has never addressed whether French fry-based dishes are inherently “street food.” Coincidentally, the last case of this Cart’s jurisprudence prior to our adoption of the Eat Wonky test concerned just that. See Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 4.

French fries, of course, are generally cooked in front of you, are meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up. However, that realization cannot end our inquiry. In the case of DCB’s Greek Fries, we found that the scale and scope and presentation of the oil-soaked bag of fries, covered in globs of feta and loose seasonings, is most easily enjoyed with a fork. Moreover, as discussed below, we found the dish to also read better as a fork-based dish. Therefore, I find that DCB cannot meet the letter of the Eat Wonky test even though the basis of the dish—French fries—are generally “street food.”

However, we have held that the Eat Wonky test is “not intended to affirmatively define the entire class of ‘street food,’ but is rather intended only to be a multifactor test to guide and direct our analysis.” In re Hot People Food, 6 Catt. 4 (2012). Because the dish is best eaten fresh off the truck, because it is quite easily eaten while in motion or while sitting on a park bench, and because it tends to embody a certain spirit of street food, I would find that, despite use of a fork, DCB’s Greek fries constitute “street food” and are thus entitled to the presumption of affirmance.

In this case, that presumption cannot be rebutted.

Greek Fries

Greek Fries


As noted above, Greek fries present a rather simple notion: (1) French fries, (2) feta, (3) oregano, (4) seasoning. We of the Cart tend to admire simplicity, as with a simple dish the question becomes one of execution. In this case, DCB’s Greek fries, while not a perfect dish, are reasonably well executed.

Flavor. The combination of warm, fried potato; crumbles of salty feta; and aromatic oregano is delightful. I’m sure it should remind me of the Peloponnese or of some remote Mediterranean islet, but, unfortunately, I have no such frame of reference. Nevertheless, the classic combination of flavors is flawless and well-balanced and provided a warm and sunny respite on a brisk and blustery day.

Fries. The fries are good but not perfect. We have spoken well of fries that are “fresh and hot and crisp with a pillowy center.” See Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 4. While DCB’s fries were most certainly fresh, most certainly hot, and featured, one might say, a certain pillowiness to their interiors, a true crispness was disappointingly lacking. For this reason, we found that the dish was best enjoyed with a fork—in other words, as a sort of Greek hash brown. And, really, in that manner, the dish was quite delightful. (I believe we commented, in an uncharacteristic moment of youthfulness, that it would make decent drunk food, but the late-night food truck scene has not yet caught on.)

Quantity and Value. For $5, you get a bag of fries that could easily feed two-to-three people. In our case, it fed two rather ravenous Justices, but we are perhaps not entirely representative. Regardless, at $5, this is a good deal and could easily make a meal unto itself (albeit an entirely unhealthy one).

For the reasons above, this case is


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