Being Respectful of Other Cuisines


Hal Sirowitz

I don’t know how you can sit there and accuse me with a straight face
of not being multi-cultural, mother said. Haven’t I
taken you to Chinese restaurants, even the one that has fortune
cookies with the sayings of Chairman Mao? I even took you to
a Japanese restaurant, where there were no chairs—I had to eat
while squatting on the floor. I may not have agreed with you
about the Vietnam War—I always took America’s side, feeling
it was my patriotic duty—but that didn’t stop me from taking
you to Vietnamese restaurants. I had to watch you desecrate
your religion by eating squid—it’s not kosher. Whereas, if I had
a little pork, it was hidden in the spring roll. We went to Greek,
Mexican and Italian restaurants. The only time we ate American
food was when we ate at home. I’m sorry about that one time I
overcooked the Hungarian Goulash, but I meant no disrespect
for Hungary’s struggles for freedom. There are some children
who had childhoods without ever tasting pizza. You weren’t
one of them. If I said anything bad about a country, I’m sorry,
but I never took my resentment out on their food. You can tell
your therapist any untruth about the way I brought you up, but
you can’t say anything bad about the way I shaped your eating
habits—bestowing you with an international appetite.