“I Liked the Food, the Service was Great….but…….

| January 11, 2011 | Comments (0)

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the crowd wasn’t very diverse. Very  ‘white bread’, if you know what I mean !”

This was the thumbnail review provided me by Nadia of a new bistro that opened in her neighborhood in Manhattan;  Hudson Heights to be precise. Nadia, I might add, is lovely, multilingual,  a very educated  woman working in a high-level professional job. One would say she is very sophisticated.

Nadia  is a South Asian  in her early 50s and gorgeous,  with that enviable physiognomy that allows  her to fit into most societies in the world. She could walk into  almost any  place and  “pass” for Spanish, Asian Indian, Mexican, Turkish ; you name  the ethnic group, she looks the part.

Yours Truly, Moon Dog Oglesby, on the other hand, is very White Bread and fits in almost no where.  Maybe on Tangier  Island, Virginia where my ancestors landed 300 year ago and where everybody looks more or less alike with beaky noses and receeding chins, the product  of generations of in-breeding, but not in many locales here in New York City or most other places. In my South Bronx ‘hood which is overwhelmingly Latino – these days most of the people seem to hail from Puebla, Mexico –  I stand out like a sore thumb. Or a rare white swan. (Yes, a prefer that analogy.)  For most of my 72 years, it has always been that way for me, growing up in Japan and working many decades in Southeast Asia. I am the “farang” (Thai), the “bo” (Burmese) or the “buleh” (Indonesian) who they point to or shout at.

So fitting in has never been my shtick or my kismet. That’s why I found Nadia’s “review” of the restaurant a bit bewildering, if not unsettling.  If I had expectations of  ” diversity”  as a dining criterion when I went  into eateries in Bangkok or Tokyo or Rangoon, I would have turned away and starved ! Would never have found a place with that mix of faces from different places that Nadia seems to require.

 Which leads me to ponder:  doesn’t all this talk  of multiculturalism and diversity have its intolerant side? I know the old Melting Pot of yore is no longer popular and the term is nearly taboo, but I kind of liked the Melting Pot. We were all supposed to be the same; just Americans. (I know, I know – there were ugly things like segregation and Whites Only lunch counters, but they are gone now.)  Isn’t there an element of  “reverse racism” in Nadia’s need for diversity?

I think for her birthday I am going to buy Nadia a little device I will call the Social Mine Sweeper. She could set it to the desired degree of  “diversity” she  is seeking (a little Latino, a dash of Black, perhaps a touch of Asia; the slightest hint of White Bread ?) and  pin it to her Prada scarf so  when she walks into a cafe or restaurant – or even a private dinner party – her little Mine Sweeper, nicely designed and encrusted with semi-precious stones, would emit a discreet beep telling her whether she should tarry a while or just walk past the place.

That way Nadia’s meal will be perfectly balanced. There’s nothing better than a Diverse Sole Meuniere.

Moon Dog’s thoughts of a Tuesday evening as the dinner hour approaches.

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