Multi-National Restaurant Hybrids
( and Other Morsels)
Remember the old joke
about eating at the "Chinese/German" restaurant? Half an hour later
you're hungry--for power?
I've been trying to think of more funny
combinations. The effort was occasioned by a meal last fall, in San
Francisco, when Gabriella Tal was in town visiting. Barbara and Gabriella
and I went to a Persian restaurant in the Richmond district.
I asked the waitress, "Are you Iranian?"
She said, "No, I'm from Brazil."
I was struck with the hilarious idea--at least to me--of an Iranian/Brazilian
restaurant, where you come out dancing, and promptly arrest yourself!*
Got any more? Please do my thinking for
me, folks. For all of us.
"Politically correct?" Not sure. Maybe
this is a way to promote freedom, like the cartoons of "Antonio Prohias,"
whose cartoons in MAD magazine and later on MAD TV have injected truth
and humor for years into a situation that hasn't been very funny for
a lot of folks.
God Knows I love Persian culture. And
food. Sometimes, maybe, funny trumps, as long as no one really gets
hurt. It's ok to poke fun at archaic, corrupt, regimes, a little,
Speaking of waiters,
waitresses, and chefs "impersonating" people from other countries
with approximately the same skin color, we recently heard the waiters
at our favorite Indian restaurant speaking Spanish, a couple weeks after
the owner had told us it was becoming hard to find good help from the
That led me to remember the time I delivered
pizzas for a popular neighborhood pizzeria in New Jersey. I'd been working
weekends there for several months, when I suddenly "grokked" that the
"beloved Italian family" who owned the place and were something of a
neighborhood icon, were talking a language that sounded like Arabic!
I went and asked the boss, "What
part of Italy are you folks from?"
He was cagey: he answered--since I'd
plainly heard the Arabic--"We're half Italian and half Egyptian!"
I'm pretty sure the Italian half was pure public relations. Not that
an Egyptian can't make pizza as good or better than an Italian, but
if people find out, "There goes the neighborhood," or at least the neighborhood
And that brings us to
another subject long pent-up in the cramped penthouse of my brain:
Why are there Mococcan restaurants, but no Egyptian or
Algerian restaurants**? Why are there Thai restaurants
but no Burmese restaurants?
True, Meher Baba says the
only REAL question is "Who am I?". But there are a heckuva lot of interesting
FALSE questions to waste lifetimes over! I once asked an Egyptian
fellow why there are no Egyptian restaurants. He simply said, "The food
in Egypt is terrible!" Anyone eaten in Egypt? What do they eat there,
Matzoh? Anything else? God, I'm flirting with verbal disaster today.
Better shut up again!
**I mean in America, of course. I'm assuming
there are Egyptian restaurants in Cairo!
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