Charles Town, West Virginia

It is only about 70 minutes drive from Fairfax, VA, and yet so few go and visit — why might that be?  This town is full of charm, old buildings, Civil War history, and there is a plaque to Martin R. Delany in the town center.

West Virginia is in the process of reopening (note the obscenity), but barber shops require appointments and take only one person at a time.  The restaurants seem to be doing curbside only, as in Virginia, and what would you want to eat there anyway?  Population density in town is low, and it feels quite safe to walk around because you don’t have to switch sides of the street to avoid people.  You just have to walk at a constant pace.

In one store they will sell you toilet paper and masks.  But the guy takes his mask off to sell you the masks, because he feels he needs to explain and justify the prices for the masks.

The gdp per capita of West Virginia is, surprisingly to many people, equal to about that of France.  Charles Town is by no means run down, and either the center of town or the outskirts appear to be somewhat wealthier than most parts of Western Europe.

Here are eleven classic dishes you might try in West Virginia.

And there is still an opera house in town, and it was staging Sondheim’s Into the Woods until Covid came along.


Tyler, you have not written about Virginia. You live and work in Virginia. I understand the governor has been imposing many restrictions and he wants to keep them for several months. What do you and your GMU colleagues think about those restrictions and the governor's strategy?

Virginia's Grand Dragon of the Realm has made some interesting calls during this time.

There is certainly a lot to know about this topic.

I love all of the points you made.

What do you think avoiding people and wearing masks does to your immune system over time?

Personally, I never cross the street when people are approaching but they always do. It disappoints me.

Do you even lift, bro?

Literally. You have a better shot at strengthening your immune system through exercise than whatever strange ideas you are cooking up here.

But if you insist, once international travel becomes possible, I'd recommend going to India and drinking the tap water. That would be the immune system equivalent of sparring with Mike Tyson. Of course, you might just get KO'ed in the process but whatever floats your boat.

Yes, good analogy, similar to athletes taking 2 months off from all exercise and not working their muscles on a daily basis. They would come back after 2 months out of shape.

Immune systems need to be exposed to viruses and bacteria on a daily basis and the lockdown is making it weaker.

I think you might be a good candidate for a political appointee in this administration. Have you submitted your resume (i.e. done a batshit crazy interview on OAN)?

Watch this 6 minute video from George Carlin on germs and immune systems. He nails it. A little levity, but more wisdom and common sense than all the Tyler and Alex posts combined over past 8 weeks.

Is there a segment of the video where he encourages viewers to seek out infected people and have them cough in your face?

If I drank the Indian tap water, I would most likely get diarrhea. but over time my immune system would adapt and respond to handle the tap water like the locals.

The problem with the lousy drinking water in India is that it makes people sick all the time. Sure, it blasts foreigners, but the locals pay too. When they chlorinated the water in Paterson, NJ early in the 20th century, the mortality rate plummeted. The immune system can only do so much. I could work out at the gym every day for years, but I wouldn't do much in the ring against the likes of Tyson in his prime.

Don't be a dick. Yes your immune system can only do so much, but Alvins broader point is sound. Your immune system needs exercise too (not too much though) and most people staying at home will return with a weaker immune system.

In fairness, "the hygiene hypothesis" for the rise of chronic diseases is probably right.

People would admit it too, if it weren't a weird prominent moment for "What doesn't kill you makes you weaker".

With regard to the Governor's announcement, that wasn't what I meant when I said they should take the Australian approach...

I see that rather than apologize for saying a rude word, the Governor has denied it happened -- despite presumably having seen the video evidence himself. I can believe he didn't realize he said it at the time, after all, Neil Armstrong was sure he hadn't flubbed his line, but I find it disturbing he thinks he can change reality by denying he said it hard enough.

Maybe this is why the Coronavirus is not under control in the US.

Because more visitors are interested in the Charles Town Races and its associated negative sum wagering attractions just outside of town? And Harrisonburg or Winchester is as good a place to try those dishes as anywhere in WVa.

Charlestown Races is the home of the million dollar Charlestown Classic, a mile and one eighth race for four year-olds and up.

West Virginia leads the US in drug overdose. They would choose to burn in hell for all eternity than live in WV. I would too.

The panhandle and the rest of WV are very different. Those overdoses are mostly in the Southwest.

Jefferson County, WV has a median household income of $76,000, more than the national average. It has extraordinarily cheap housing, much of which is new and high quality (there are several housing developments listed on Zillow). There is a commuter train running all the way to DC. They are close to Frederick, MD and quick access to the highway if you can handle a long commute by car to parts of MD/VA.

Most of WV reputation comes from outside the panhandle. Also, the panhandle has consistently voted against the rest of the state (republican when WV was Democrat, Democrat now that is recently switched republican).

Re: Eleven dishes

My ten year old cooks better than they do out there. Some sad looking food.

Nonetheless, buckwheat pancakes and skillet cornbread are tasty, if not particularly limited to West Virginia. As for chicken and dumplings - well, that never looks particularly inspiring when done well.

Holy crap, those chicken and dumplings gave me the creeps.

Shouldn't the pepperoni rolls have cheese in them, too? That's the thing that stuck out to me. Pepperoni and bread? Come on.

I don't know what any of you were looking at, but, for what it was - mostly simple comfort food, except the venison - it looked really, really good. More for me, I guess.

Real American comfort food is DiGiorno's and HotPocket, not DiCrappo and HotShits.

Even Hot Pockets include a facsimile of cheese with the pepperoni!

Don't bad mouth ramps. They're delicious. They're a great seasonal treat. Granted, I'd let someone else pick them for me. Gathering ramps is how Rapunzel wound up in that tower.

Also, morels are magic, but proper morels aren't toxic eaten raw. Mock morels, which look like regular morels, except they are yellower, are toxic raw and need to be cooked properly. Let someone who knows the territory gather your morels for you.

Finally, buckwheat pancakes are absolutely wonderful. Russians love them and they're a staple in Bhutan, another mountain state. Still, if you are trying to avoid gluten, ask if they add wheat flour. A lot of buckwheat pancake recipes call for a mixture.

I cannot fault the chicken and dumplings. They're for eating, not Instagramming.

Looking at those eleven dishes one might say GDP per capita comparisons don't appear to capture everything

I'd rather have a smaller GDP than eat that schlop everyday. Prison food looks more appetizing.

That's comfort food -- everybody has their versions of it. I've never been to Charles Town, but before even looking I was sure those weren't the only kinds of things on offer. By the looks of it, I think I could survive there for at least a little while without suffering too severely.

"That's comfort food "

Other than the pepperoni rolls, most are popular all thru the south and midwest.

This thread is just urban food snobbery

People have different tastes. That makes them snobs?

No, the snobbery is in pointing and laughing at these foods and assuming it tells you something about the sad rubes who live in those benighted places without realizing that the same kinds of basic bar foods are available in their own city and that the place they're laughing at probably also has more sophisticated options (as Charles Town does).

They didn't say anything about the people. Just that the food looks less than appetizing. Your need to feel offense and find great injustice and oppression in simple comments tells me all I need to know about you. You want to silence their speech and suppress their thoughtcrimes too?

Is this about the people or food?

"West Virginia leads the US in drug overdose. They would choose to burn in hell for all eternity than live in WV. I would too."

What if there was an MR post about, say, soul food in Detroit and somebody jumped in commenting about the murder rate, and said something like "having to eat that terrible food would make me homicidal too or hope that somebody would take me down in a drive-by". Would you consider that possibly an offensive remark?

WV is great for outdoor activities. I wouldn't advise visiting for the food for the attractions in towns.

My coworker went recently and whatever little place they stopped for food advertised as french fry salad as their "most popular dish".

Agree. I think the french fries on a salad thing originated in Pittsburgh, anyway...or at least Western PA.

Pittsburgh's only about 20 miles from West Virginia thanks to WV's "other panhandle" that makes much of western PA closer to WV than it is to OH.

I've been to WV several times but hadn't known about french fry salad. Reminiscent of how Peruvians like to make stir fried dishes (thanks to Chinese immigrants) that include french fries as an ingredient.

What a menu: french fry salad with stir fried french fries -- and a side of french fries. And Australians and Japanese have invented desserts that use french fries:

Nearby Harpers Ferry is a magical place. I wish I had sheltered in place above the Potomac and Shenandoah river confluence.

It is excellent with both historical buildings and nature sites with the rivers and hills.

And visiting it, I instantly saw why the place changed hands so many times during the Civil War (IIRC it was taken and re-taken by the Union and Confederate armies a half dozen times): the place was almost impossible to defend.

Because the defenders would have to split their defense to three separate areas (the town itself, and then across the Shenandoah River, and also across the Potomac River) to occupy the steep hills in those places. Fail to do that and the attackers could simply wheel artillery up the hill and rain destruction down on the defenders.

But the attacker got to choose where to attack while the defender had to defend all three areas. So basically whichever army swept in would easily re-conquer the town, only to lose it again when the next army came by.

It's location at the head of the Shenandoah Valley was strategically important because the valley was the key route to invade the other side's territory, so both sides kept re-capturing the town.

Throw in John Brown's failed raid on Harper's Ferry and you have a ton of history there, in addition to the natural history.

>...and yet so few go and visit — why might that be?

Well, I did go and visit. Not a tourist visit, but I was staying in Loudoun County and needed a hearing test relatively quickly. No one in Loudoun had availabilities any earlier than two months -- believe that? -- and that was too long.

There was an ear doctor in Charles Town who had an immediate opening, and she didn't charge. Her philosophy was that everyone ought to be able to have their hearing checked. So that's how I ended up in Charles Town one morning not too long ago.

And as far as Charles Town goes, believe me, it is not anything to write home about.

But definitely worth writing about on the Internet, with the added attraction of some people dumping on West Virginia.

Cowen: "The gdp per capita of West Virginia is, surprisingly to many people, equal to about that of France." Inequality in West Virginia is among the nation's highest: the top 1% average income is almost 20 times greater than the average income of the bottom 99%. Median household income in West Virginian ranks down there with Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. On the other hand, as Cowen points out population density in West Virginia is low and falling, facilitating social distancing: while the population of neighboring states has been rising, the population of West Virginia has been falling. Don't get me wrong: living in a small town during a pandemic has advantages, including a lower risk of infection due to lower population density. Besides, if one is to be unemployed during the pandemic, better to be in West Virginia where the cost of living is extraordinarily low than in NYC, D.C., or Boston where the cost of living is extraordinarily high. Of course, not everyone in West Virginia is poor: the governor is a coal mining billionaire (who also owns the famous Greenbrier resort that's located in West Virginia). But I digress. Americans need to reconsider where they wish to live; indeed, Americans need to reconsider lots of choices they make. Is Cowen leading the way and moving to West Virginia?

Median household income in West Virginia-33k

Median household income in France-31k

It’s pretty bad indictment of France and their economic model any way you slice it.

Actually, median household income in France is high relative to other European countries. But it's a little misleading because the public benefits in many European countries, including France, are high. In the U.S., the median household income is $43,585, meaning that WV's is relatively low (relative to other states). These figures (including the figure you provided for France) use purchasing power parity (PPP). In any case, I'm not confident that median household income is the best measure of living standards. An alternative would be median per capita income. Not surprisingly, median per capita income does not track median household income, and in many cases the variation is very large. For example, the median per capita income in France is $12,445 while it's $7,345 in Singapore (whose median household income is $32,360). Kuwait, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have similar large disparities. The number of people in a household varies greatly from country to country and from state to state. Lots of people living together in a shack in the West Virginia mountains may have a high household income but a low per capita income. What would economists do if not for the variety of statistics to prove whatever they wish to prove.

By the way, "household" was the base unit for the organization of social, political, and economic life in the ancient world, but individuals included in a "household" didn't necessarily live there. For example, the wife of the patriarch was not included in his "household" even if they lived in the same house - she was included in the "household" of her father (or grandfather). Why? To prevent two powerful "households" from merging via a marriage to form one very powerful "household". Did economists come up with this concept of "household"?

That 31k in France gets you healthcare, a safety net, and real food. That 33k in WV doesn't. No wonder they lead the nation in opioid prescriptions.

Opiod prescriptions implies access to healthcare...

The 33k in WV doesn't take into account transfers and redistribution at the local, state, and federal level either.

These comments are related to a realization I had a couple of days ago when Bernie Sanders was making some statements about Denmark. There is a lot of things people say about comparisons between America and Europe that seem .... odd.

Then I realized there are a lot of Europeans and Americans that think Europeans are, in general, wealthier than Americans. There must be so much about the world that doesn't make sense if you believe this.

"Then I realized there are a lot of Europeans and Americans that think Europeans are, in general, wealthier than Americans. There must be so much about the world that doesn't make sense if you believe this."

Yes, there's this belief that American's are desperately poor despite American's driving more, in bigger cars, having much bigger houses, and more disposable income, going to better Universities, paying cheaper prices for gas, food, utlities and taxes. It's not a logical position, but it's clearly there.

I think a lot of people in Europe just see Americans as hicks who enjoy a lot of cheap hick stuff in bulk (large gas guzzler cars, cheap big portions of bad food, etc.) but don't really feel too much of lack of not having those things.

I kinda have some sympathy for that point of view, but whether we do or not, maybe that's what explains it, upscale Americans viewing European goods as superior goods (German cars, French wine, Italian suits) in a way that is not captured by overall consumption or imports and higher local consumption of European goods in Europe as evidence of being richer.

Also, Denmark has how many people? Maybe comparing Denmark to Long Island might make sense.

Well, I think the realization was that this goes beyond the normal arguments you hear. For example mentioning size when comparing metrics between the US and Denmark is fair. But , I would frame it like this. One of the common points you hear is how much better public transportation is in Europe than the US. The arguments then go to comparison of metrics and talking about density and so on.

To me though, having a certain amount of experience with the compared systems, the salient point is that public transport in Europe and America is still worse than driving in Europe. And driving in Europe is much worse than driving in America.

So the arguments about public transport have many people making claims about European superiority, which in public transport seems true, but it seems they don't have any realization of the larger point that personal mobility in America is much, much better than in Europe. So this leads to confusion and anger that America won't build public transportation, when the very simple explanation is that even if there was a European style public transportation system, I and I am sure many other people would never use it.

"And driving in Europe is much worse than driving in America."
Have you ever driven on the Autobahn? Or seen the quality of roads in Switzerland, Denmark, even Spain for that matter. Please elaborate what you are talking about, because I drive in both countries and prefer driving in Northern Europe, by a kilometer...; otherwise I will assume you have not gotten out much in the last 10 years.

Yes, I lived in Germany for years and traveled fairly extensively when I lived there. I also return regularly. While there is certainly roads in America worse than some roads in Europe as far as surface quality this is certainly not a general case.

The first issue is of course when I drive on a road eventually I want to park somewhere. Parking alone makes driving in America much better than driving in Europe, and having enough park facilities is an issue of wealth. I think the parking issue is so obvious I don't need to elaborate.

But there are issues beyond that. Even in rural areas of Germany on the Autobahn atrocious traffic that has few parallels in America is not uncommon.

Off the Autobahn city streets are far too narrow, and all roads there are far too few shoulders.

I could go on, but I think you get the point

No, I don´t get your point.

Regarding your first point, I live in Switzerland, and if we are talking about average road surface quality, the US doesn´t even come close. The average road here is an order of magnitude better maintained than the average road in the US, and I have driven recently and extensively in California, Texas, New York and Massachusetts.

Regarding your point on parking, that parking space correlates with wealth, if you think Switzerland as one of the wealthiest countries on earth cannot afford to create a few extra parking spaces, then I have a bridge to sell you. Indeed, the city I live in, like many Swiss cities, has decided to reduce the amount of parking space every year by 10% for the next decade. This with the goal of making the city more livable by aiming to make it car free. Before you call socialism, note that this was voted for by 70%+ of the local population.... you know, to improve those city quality of life ratings, the ones that Switzerland, but also Germany, Austria, Denmark, Norway etc. regularly ace. The idea is the livable, walkable, breathable, bike-able city, and it´s great. I despise cars in residential neighborhoods. For long-distance travel, we have our high speed trains, cars, and EasyJet...

The US of course has lots more space, and urban centers tend to be denser here. So there is just less space for roads, granted. It´s never too late to buy a smaller, more environmentally friendly car, or to learn to drive and park properly....

I am not sure how exactly to respond to this. It seems from most of your comment that you are conceding that driving is worse in Europe, but that's good because driving is bad anyway.

Well I certainly disagree. It's interesting because I think a lot of what you are saying is related to the original point I was trying to make, but I am not sure if your interested in arguing over that larger point.

I'm not sure how I conceded that driving is worse here, I don't think it is at all, but you read that into my comment, fine.

My larger point is very simple:

Inside of cities: I find it increases my quality of life not to have to drive anywhere in my city (because PT is so good), and not to have cars impede on the cityscape or my healthy walk / bike experience.

Between cities: I don't especially enjoy being trapped in a metal box, with no space to move around, or to socialize, or to work. When I can, I choose a high-speed train instead of the well-built, relatively uncongested roads here.

But if I really want to, I can get into my Audi and have a great drive on an Autobahn at 200 km/h+, which will top any experience you can have on a highway in the US (at least legally)... But you know, I catch myself wanting to do that less and less (see above point... anyway German trains top at 300+ km/h). I haven't driven my car in weeks, and that's fine.

So that was my point; not sure what yours was.

Well I chose driving as an example because I thought it was sufficiently evident that it is much better in the US. I have known many Americans in Europe and Europeans in America, and that fact that driving around in America is much more convenient has been something universally noted and completely uncontroversial. I find it difficult to believe anyone would disagree with this in good faith ( uncongested roads really?)

The reason I brought up this, again to my thinking completely uncontroversial point, was to point at something larger. There's a strong desire in many people for more interventionist, in every sense really, government. If you are in the US most of the more successful examples of more powerful government are in Europe, so they are naturally places to draw from to advance your cause. Many Europeans both agree with the desire to expand government and also of course as a point of pride like any type of favorable comparison (that's why they contrive these quality of life indices you mentioned.)

So if I am someone in America who wants more interventionist government, I probably like government projects like PT as do their ideological compatriots in Europe, who also want to explain why its actually better to cram in housing around a centralized transportation system that they cram into to get around as matter of national pride. So with this they can explain how much better transportation is in Europe (maybe with an index!) And how if transportation was centralized we could have it to!

Anyway it just occurred to me that people become so committed to these arguments that they actually start to believe, not only that with European systems we could have European transportation, but that these systems are actually better (which is somewhat ridiculous to anyone who has ever had to rely on public transportation European or otherwise.)

I know, I know... those quality of life indicators are "contrived", because functional government creating human-friendly infrastructure is anathema to your ideology... Fine by me, enjoy bumping around in your car, while I sell mine and enjoy a livable, walkable, environmentally friendly and healthy city.

Americans live in America, and go to Europe for vacation. For the most part, they don't speak European languages or consume European pop culture.

Most places look pretty prosperous if you're staying downtown, eating in nice restaurants, and taking tours of prestige architecture.

Heck, look at this post -- West Virginia looks pretty upscale and prosperous from this angle on this street.

I was going to criticize Tyler's tone - dripping with condescension - about West Virginia until I read some of these comments. The arrogance is unbelievable. You people need to get outside the beltway sometime. Sure there are hicks in rural places, but they are everywhere. I assure you that where I grew up in Queens is nothing to write home about either.

Though dripping with condescension does not quite capture it. He misses the major reason Charles Town is known in the metro DC - horse racing - while likely thinking he is praising Charles Town for having an opera house.

Queens is a shithole. WV is a shittier shithole. As a rural guy, you should be used to non-PC "guy talk". Real men aren't snowflakes, they can dish and they can take.

If you’re reading this blog seriously you have a tiny tiny c0ck. Just stating facts.

West Virginia population about 1.8 million. 54 deaths and about 1,400 cases, more than half recovered.

This was a ridiculous post, dripping in condescension about them hicks outside the beltway.

No wonder academia is increasingly reliant on government handouts.

A place so benighted that it does not have an opera house. And this year, covid had an impact on the annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, providing a convenient excuse to not attend.

Winchester, VA is known the world over as the home town of the one and only Patsy Cline.

It's not surprising that the cargo cult thinks they are above West Virginians. Sometimes I think our fearless leader drops a post like this for the sole purpose of letting you all get your dopamine fix without

It gives you another thread to use "cargo cult" once more. Thank goodness you got it in there before you apparently dropped dead mid-sentence.

Cargo cult, cargo cult, leftists, r-strategists, leftists, globalists, cargo cult ....

He really wants "cargo cult" to happen.

I don't know if Shark Lasers is using it in the same sense, but I've used "cargo cult" lately to refer to the most extreme shutdown-until-vaccine fetishists.

Folks who imagine that you can close every business for a couple of years and yet the goods needed to keep civilization ticking will just magically keep showing up. As if a multi-trillion-dollar standstill isn't an emergency stopgap measure, but rather constitutes proof that the economy could have been run this way all along, and should be from now on.

The cargo cult as it pertains to MR and its commentariat are the body of midwits who believe that imitating the behavior of people they believe are Very Smart And Serious ™ will confer upon them the title of A Very Smart And Serious Person™ (credentialing is important here).

This is why, using the Deep State Sabotage Flu as a recent example, our friends here latched onto the models predicting that MILLIONS WILL DIE™ and wholeheartedly endorsed A Full Shutdown®, Test And Trace ©, etc., notably not one second before or after the blue-checkmarks and mainstream media outlets adopted the same rhetoric. This behavior has continued even after the models have proven inaccurate through increasingly desperate nit-picking of contrary data in tandem with continuous rationalization and confirmation of priors, combined with the mocking snark directed towards deplorables that one needs to signal to others that he is both Smart and Serious.

What I was saying before our amorphously-dubbed friend interrupted me is that I suspect Tyler occasionally throws the cargo cult a bone by giving them an opportunity to lash out against deplorables and replenish their self-image as Very Smart And Serious People™. The residents of West Virginia are an excellent if unimaginative target for this.

"I've used "cargo cult" lately to refer to the most extreme shutdown-until-vaccine fetishists.

Folks who imagine that you can close every business for a couple of years and yet the goods needed to keep civilization ticking will just magically keep showing up. "

That's an interesting thought. I've seen more than a few people posting online with that mentality. There do seem to be a surprising amount of people that think we can actually stay locked down for 3-6 more months or even longer. It's just a logical conclusion of the money grows on trees mentality and that the only reason we aren't all rich and living like the Jetsons is because the greedy billionaires are hoarding all their loot in giant McScrooge duck vaults.

I have to say the phrase cargo cult does capture that magical gifts from the sky/Federal government mentality.

It's r-selection. You'll notice the perpetual lockdown advocates tend to be the people who are most removed from the means of their survival.

Nobody goes there because they all go to nearby Harpers Ferry, which is a huge tourism and hiking/nature attraction. Charles Town is my little secret for when I am in the WV panhandle.

I went to WV for a 50th birthday party once. The birthday boy didn't live there but the family did. Absolutely beautiful scenery. Seems that most of the family grew up there, moved for work, then came back to live there in retirement.

It's astounding to me that WV isn't the vacation capital of the east. It's a compact version of Colorado, with gorgeous scenery, outdoor recreation, deep forest and wild rivers. People travel half way around the world to visit other cultures, when there is an "other" culture right there, south of the Ohio River. From my experience of both, I've found WV to be culturally richer, more friendly, and far less desolate in spirit than the outer boroughs of NYC. As far as food is concerned - well, the focus on food and eating at restaurants is one of the few unfortunate vulgarities of this otherwise marvelous blog.

You’re a fucking c(_)ckold.

Food and eating is a vulgarity? Must be fun to eat at your family dinner table.

Eating is not a talent or achievement. I can guarantee you that the dumbest hillbilly in West Virginia enjoys his food just as much as you do. Smacking your lips over some esoteric dish, or boasting that you've discovered some out of the way restaurant that no one else in your circle has been, is minor league status signalling, considering everyone has to eat, and no one seeks out foods that disagree with them.

Gluttony isn't just eating too much, it's being a bit too much into what one eats, as in the eat to live not live to eat saying.

Which doesn't mean one shouldn't enjoy one's food, if that's one's thing. But one would have to think pretty hard to imagine a more thorough loser than someone who is a snob about people based on what they eat.

This whole website is about critiquing books, articles, sport, movies, restaurants, economics, you name it. But when the critiquing is food, we become greatly offended. Pathetic. You are triggered snowflake.

Food is different from "books, articles, sport, movies" etc. Appreciating food does not take particular intelligence or sophistication, or even knowledge of cooking or methods of food preparation. Most people like most restaurants, and most foods. It's a something of a feat to be able to truthfully assert that you prefer small, nondescript restaurants in strip malls to expensive dining places in big cities, but its a very small one.

Food is simply a lowest common denominator topic. Like pretty girls. "Oh, look at that babe over there." "No, I like that one over here." This is how knuckleheads talk. I know, because I am one.

Have you ever heard of the Michelin guide or James Beard Foundation? There is a whole body of sophisticated critique and analysis of food preparation and food science. Molecular gastronomy is practically a field of chemistry. To pretend this doesn't exist is foolishness and ignorance.

Here's Harvard's Science and Cooking department where you might learn something about the sophistication of food these days:

You might not appreciate the worlds created by Robuchon, Bocuse, Jiro, or Redzepi but us lower life forms inferior to your supreme sensibilities do understand and cherish these works.

All food is pretty good. Fast food, slow food, cheap food, expensive food, French food, Chinese food, junk food, and haute cuisine. The food that makes it to your mouth has been rigorously selected by eons of human preferences to be something that you'll like. You don't have to go Harvard to understand this.

You can't judge someone's intellect or character by the kind of food they like. But you CAN derive clues to someone's intellect or character from the kind of books or movies they like, or what economic theories they subscribe to.

Aren't the stories and music that you like selected by eons of human preference too?

M: What you say is true. But there are truly bad books and music, but no truly bad food in general circulation.

You're lucky you missed 1970s Boston. I had never seen a street of Italian restaurants without one garlic clove among them. The food was so bland, my friend asked for oregano. They brought her a little cup of it, so they had it in the kitchen. They just weren't putting using it in their food. This restaurant was supposedly the best of the lot.

Honest Yankee cooking is even blander, and it's the only culture I've heard of where proper hospitality to a guest should avoid vulgar displays of plenty. Offering a second boiled potato would be considered outrageous ostentation, possibly a form of vanity.

This stuff from West Virginia might not be photographed all that well - white balance, people - but some of it looked pretty good. My lone dining experience in WV was back in 1960s Morgantown. It was pizza made with cheddar cheese and pretty good for all that.

I was born and raised around Charleston, WV. Under normal circumstances, they hold a great summer festival called (wait for it) FestivALL. Given the irregular state boundaries and width of the state, I have never been near Charles Town, but I imagine it is like many quaint towns dotted across the state. People could do a lot worse than visiting WV for tourism if/when they feel safe enough to travel.

FestivALL for the rest of y'all.

The reason I don’t visit more often, and this goes for all regional destinations, is that during normal times one can never be sure whether the 70-minute drive will be doubled or tripled because of traffic. All the more reason to go now.

“ and what would you want to eat there anyway? “

This is interesting. I was just looking a places to go for a long weekend and looked up Adventures on the Gorge yesterday. They already have social distancing rules in place to go rafting.

West Virginia is beautiful. The Appalachian Hospital ER is newer and Lansing has fun outdoor activities. We visited the East Coast a few years ago and Lansing was our final stop. We decided to end our trip with white water rafting and zip lining.

The local Wal-Mart even stocked prosciutto for the deplorables.

With the money you would save on living expenses, you could afford to have your delicacies shipped.

You might have to learn to cook some of your favorites, or you could just spend a weekend back in the big city. DC is driveable.

WV has some of the most interesting people and communities in the world. It is an easy way experience some interesting travel. Reach out if you want more tips.

A church out there (technically, Ranson) also puts on an annual “wild beast feast,” which, if you don’t mind hearing a sermon on hunting and Jesus, holds a certain cultural interest and plenty of wild game dishes.

Agreed on Charles Town, but in that regard it doesn’t stand out. The region of Northwestern VA, WV, Western Maryland, & Southwest Pennsylvania has many such towns.

Charles Town (as a quaint town, as opposed to gambling center) just doesn’t stand out that much compared with Winchester, Harper’s Ferry, Frederick, Staunton, Berkeley Springs, Shepherdstown, Cumberland, Frostburg, Morgantown....and on and on....though as Tyler points out, it is close.

'The region of Northwestern VA, WV, Western Maryland, & Southwest Pennsylvania has many such towns.'

On and on indeed - almost as if West Virginia panhandle is not particularly distinctive at all, those classic dishes notwithstanding.

It's like someone took German food and thought, yeah, that's ok, but its a little too healthy for my liking..

Nearby Martinsburg WVa has some potential, and Frederick Md. is fine for dining and general historic putzing around in that region. Charles Town is OK but not much to it. At least the track is right in town so you can just walk over, as opposed to being out in the middle of nowhere like Penn National.

The racing at Charles Town improved quite a bit when they first expanded the adjoining casino -- crummy horses but big competitive fields -- but it has really slid back into mediocrity.

West Virginia in general, but the eastern panhandle in particular is full of little gems like this. Just about the entire eastern panhandle is close enough for a day trip from DC or Baltimore. In addition to Charles Town, I highly recommend Berkeley Springs, WV and the nearby Cacapon State Park. The best of all is Capon Springs & Farms, a rustic resort which hosted much of the DC elite in the summers of the late 19th century and now caters to families (including mine) looking for a screen-free mountain respite.

Anyone headed that way would also be well-advised to make a pit stop in the northern Virginia town of Winchester (looking at a map, it's near the northern tip of Virginia, northwest of the DC suburbs to which the label NoVa is usually applied)

"you don’t have to switch sides of the street to avoid people"

Unless they actually sneeze without covering while you are passing by, its just paranoia to think you can be infected by walking near somebody.

Especially if you are wearing a mask yourself.

Nothing is 100%. Even wearing a mask means you could still get infected. Please read a statistics book, your knowledge of math is less than a 3rd grader.

The barbecue place on the main street in Charles Town was better than I expected, the brew pub is mediocre. There is a bakery in Ranson that does pepperoni rolls, a rarity in that part of the state.

When we visited Kentucky we encountered hot browns, lamb fries and burgoo -- so Charles Town needs to come up with some distinctively weird local delicacy to tempt racing fans and other tourists. I have a distant foggy memory of Aqueduct once being kniwn for its Manhattan clam chowder.

Hey, their statistics might look good.

You visit from out of state, get covid there, go back how and discover you have covid. It's not reported on their state's statistics, but some other state.

Do you think Florida gets the covid statistics from those who have visited the state and go home and become symptomatic.

Should we allocate covid statistics to states to where the the virus was acquired? Are you listening Florida? Are you listening Sundance? Are you listening New Orleans?

Wasn’t there a lot of speculation that New Yorkers escaped from their state and a main destination was Florida?

I wouldn’t blame Florida for Cuomo’s mistakes.

The Eastern Panhandle is essentially part of the broader DC metro area, part of its exurbs, and thus substantially higher real per capita income than most of the rest of WVa.

Also note that it is where John Brown's trial was held after the Harper's Ferry incident, and I think he was hanged there.

The most interesting college town on the east coast is the town that hosts the University of West Virginia.

The trails on the ancient (very very ancient) Appalachian slopes near the college, the river in the distance, the churches of so many denominations, the overlap of southern and northern Northern Hemisphere botany, and for a few months in spring and summer, an abundance of Mid-Atlantic butterflies that would remind you of a Heaven of Butterflies, had you ever been to such a place, or of you haven't, maybe you will be reminded of Beulah Land, if you were ever there, or if you have not been to either place, well, life is beautiful and so is God's green earth.

I'm not picking up condescension. I'm picking up more bemusement. I've run into lots of places, often incidently, that had some surprising charms. The old Birnbaum business travel guides used to offer various tips on where to kill a morning or an afternoon on a business trip, and some of them were surprising gems.

You clearly have no idea what you're talking about. Under normal conditions, Charles Town welcomes thousands of visitors every week who flock to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races to enjoy gambling, food, horse racing and concerts. Visitors to nearby Harpers Ferry (for history, hiking, kayaking, tubing and ziplining) and Summit Point (for auto racing) usually find their way to Charles Town as part of the excursion. Many residents in the northern and western reaches of nearby Loudoun County, VA make their grocery and home improvement store trips to Charles Town instead of Leesburg.

Charles Town has been fairly laid back about COVID-19. About 50% of shoppers and grocery workers have worn masks over the past 2 months. Neighbors help neighbors. Birthday and graduation drive-by parades happen. Children play outside. People mow their own grass.

At the same time, you would have to be blind not to see the poverty in Charles Town, just a block or two from Washington Street. For many, the extra $600/week PUA completely replaces their income and then some.

Come back. Try harder to see and understand the town. I'm quite certain you didn't see Mordington or take note of the various other historic buildings around town. You missed some good restaurants in town, not to mention all of the restaurants inside the casino. For the commenter who said that pepperoni rolls are hard to find in this part of the state -- you just don't know where to look.

I’ll be quite satisfied if all the trolls on here stay away from good ole Charles Town. Go to NYC or Jersey instead please!

Do you teach PPP adjustment in MRU? Because I heard that's what you need to use if you want to do standard-of-living comparisons across countries.

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