Reads, Writes, Eats and Cooks
Usually, I post benign, seemingly non-political musings about food as social glue. I know this is old news but I’m fascinated by a perceived immigrant threat represented through food. In this case, the threat that increased latin immigration in the U.S will result in food trucks at every street corner turned into a joke, as most enjoy tacos regardless of political views on immigration.
The threat that increased latin immigration in the U.S will result in food trucks at every street corner was projected as, cultural and culinary. That’s funny in a deeply meaningful kind of way, right?
Think of it, french fries, hot dogs, pretzels, spaghetti, pizza, all are cultural “impositions” in the U.S. I’m not even going to address European imposition on Native American culture. I don’t know how because the imposition was so overwhelming and complete.
The problem with this argument is that in most cases no one is “forcing” another to eat a certain type of food. I may want to impose samosas on an unsuspecting American culture. But how would I? Sell samosas everywhere, perhaps every street corner? But here is my problem. Selling. People would have to buy and want samosas at every street corner for it to work. [Unless people are starving and samosas are the only option. This is why the scarcity of water is so scary. There is no choice, we need water to survive.]
Historically the imposition works the other way to “Americanize” immigrant foods. For example historian, Jane Ziegelman writes of Italian immigrants in 97 Orchard: An edible history of five immigrant families in one New York Tenement,
In the hostile environment first encountered by Italians, food took on new meanings and new powers. The many forms of discrimination leveled at Italians encouraged immigrants to seal themselves off, culturally speaking, from the rest of America.[…….] Harsh critics of Italian eating habits, Americans tried through various means to reform the immigrant cook. The Italians were unmoved. Despite the cooking classes and public school lectures, and despite the persistent advice of visiting nurses and settlement workers, the immigrants’ belief in the superiority of their native foods was unwavering.
Don’t we all think that our food tradition is better? Regardless, compulsion in cuisine, whether by immigrants or natives, seems difficult. There has been historically failed efforts to force new foods or limit certain food types (like the Futurist effort to ban pasta in Italy or the parent struggle to make kids eat vegetables) Still, in democratic, capitalist America, the taco truck warning does seem laughable and serious at the same time.
The fact that Marco Gutierrez, founder of the group Latinos for Trump, a Latino! issues the threat is extra confusing.
“My culture is a very dominant culture, and it’s imposing and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”
Should I be worried about imposing my Bengaliness on my unsuspecting American, ethnically European friends and family? I, the hungryphilosoper, am so confused. This first world food problem certainly requires more consideration.
For now, here was one response to the “food fight”: Guac the vote.
Thank you, dear Latin people for your contribution to my personal taste buds…I and my South Asian peeps very much appreciate the chili peppers.
Off to find a taco and wish there was a truck on the corner,