I know a lot of you foodies out there like to concentrate on grub, like to pretend that the food on your table appears deux ex machina with no political back story behind it, and prefer not to wade into the real world. I'm one of those: that's why I review restaurants, as a respite from the insanity of my regular job as an investigative reporter. Sometimes, though, the two worlds collide, and this is one of them.
Barbara Coe is the head of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, an organization that ostensibly fights illegal immigration but is really a hate group that targets anything ethnic. I write about her looniness a lot over at our Navel Gazing news blog, and have been dying to write about her at SAFII--and here it goes: in a email sent to her followers regarding a sham doctor and her claims that illegal immigrants bring over leprosy and other diseases to the United States in epidemic proportions (read the newsier part at this Navel Gazing post), Coe wrote, "At least try to protect yourselves and your kids by distancing yourselves from anyone who cannot speak English as this is the first clue they might be an illegal alien AND never eat at ANY place where the waiter, busboy, etc. cannot speak English."
I'm sure the business owners and consumers in Little Saigon and Little Seoul, the county's most-concentrated ethnic enclaves after SanTana, will be thrilled to be smeared by Coe's broad, vile brush. In my years as a food critic, this is where communication in the English language has been most limited. Even Mexican restaurant employees, or Mexican busboys or waiters (the people Coe is insinuating), have better command of English on average than the employees at the Vietnamese and Korean places I've haunted. Not that I care: as foodies, who gives a shit what language you speak as long as the food is delicious?
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And Coe's favorite foodstuff? Cigarettes.