Well, I was all set to do my first Foodie Tuesday post and then my stomach some how got upset .
You see, I read Joel Stein’s Time Magazine article about his neighbourhood. Joel Stein thought he was being humourous with his supposed satire about his immigrant neighbours in Edison New Jersey. It was just not a bulk complaint against all immigrants, it was sadly about Indians. But some how his undertones in this article scared me.
He complained how the first immigrated Indians brought in their less smarter merchant cousins and how his movie multiplex only shows Bollywood films now. That was just the beginning.
Saturday, I went to a great Indian food place in Berkeley called Viks Chaat Corner that has been in operation for 18 years. It started out as a small hole in the wall and progressed to become one of Berkeley’s finest .
Their food is so good that is has been reviewed by the likes of the San Francisco Chronicle to the New York Times. In none of the articles I read did I hear them being called “dot heads” as in Joel Stein’s article.
Viks is a family run business just like the ones Joel Stein talks about.That is about one of three things he likes about the Indian population. Far better restaurants. Even though he did not eat in them.
Apparently, so do a lot of other people in the Bay area. The line up was out the door.
I know nothing about Indian food except that Samosas are good. So I let Steve pick out a group of things that would have fed half the street. I was thrilled to see the mixed cultures harmonously kneeding breads, and stirring pots. Indian mothers, and grandmothers in saris sprinkled with Latinos worked silently in the steamy open kitchen.
We got four different items that maybe anyone who does not live outside of the box would try.Yes, maybe some people like Joel Stein would never try this delicious food.
There was Bhel Puri which looked like a wet sea gree rice salad with a
questionalble crunchy topping. At first I hated it, but by the second spoonful I was hooked.
Wonderful huge Samosas and Aloo Tiki were the next things I tried. Aloo Tiki is made out of potatoes and declicious chickpeas. Ahh, a fibre content to die for.
And, no where Joel Stein, did anyone talk about: a sense of loss and anomie and disbelief that anyone can eat food that spicy.
You see Joel Stein, I have always lived in a bubble. My family was a group of immigrants that came over to Canada and the USA to find a better life.
One of them even died on Ellis Island trying to be a songwriter in America.They did menial jobs for years until they owned their own businesses.
I believe, and I am not afraid to say it , that everyone should have a chance to have a better life.Yes, the educated, and the uneducated.
I picked all sorts of berries for a summer, and believe me none of my peers would do it. The job was not good enough and way too hard for them. How many people do you know that would do a job like that now?
Would you Joel Stein stir a pot of steaming chickpeas for hours on end?
Joel, honestly, why did you not speak of all the jobs that were outsourced to India? That is where the real jobs went to, although, they too are feeling the pinch now. People should be reminded of this.
Why did you not speak to the workers that took these jobs that were named Cindy, and Gidget and Chip ?
Yes, they were given American names and taught slang and work for money no one would even consider here. Good thing they did not move to your neighbourhood. You might have not noticed the difference , except for their skin colour.
I have a hard time understanding this fear about immigration that is turning into hysteria. To me, there is a bigger problem that should be dealt with first.
When I go into a McDonalds in Missouri, and hear an African American young man working at the counter being called “boy” , that to me is a problem.
When I sit next to someone in another state and hear someone at an adjoining table say he would never vote for man that can’t control his woman that is problem number two.
When I see my friend Kevin get upset because he will never have equal partner rights that’s problem number three.
The fact that people of all colours, gays and women are still not equal in a lot of this country is something that should be dealt with first. How can a country work harmoniously together when they are still at odds with themselves?
Joel Stein, I am glad that you had to apologize for that article you wrote. I am glad you were stomach- sick that you hurt a lot of people. I would really like to take you out out for lunch at Viks and talk to you about your article.
I would also like to ask you about your family’s history and see where they came from. Are we all not born from families of immigrants?
Joel Stein says
” I am very much in favor of immigration everywhere in the U.S. except Edison, N.J.”
Too bad you could not repeat that to your ancestors and see what they would have had to say. Or have you segregated all of them too into proper race containers?
So Joel, call me. Let’s do a cup of Chai.
So much for my Foodie Tuesday piece. Well you can tell by the pictures it was yummy.
words and images 2010
Joel Stein’s article