Tuesday, October 11, 2005
I'm Too Proud To Talk To You Anyway
This is not a baseball post. I would like to say very briefly, however:
Again with the "Woo!"
Moving on now.
We're always looking for new places to eat. Part of the reason is a general restlessness of the palate, an affliction shared by both my wife and myself, where our love of food drives us from restaurant to restaurant chasing the cheap, easy thrill of finding something new and exciting. Basically, we're food sluts.
Another part of the reason may be--I say may be--that we're constantly being asked to leave places because, let's just say as an example, one or more of our children started throwing cutlery which may or may not have caused the spilling of innocent blood. I'm not saying one way or the other, just bear in mind that such a scenario is not outside the realm of posibility. Just know that people in the restaurant business talk to each other.
The best thing about Riverside County being up-and-coming is that new places are moving in all the time offering us new dining out options with new wait-staffs who do know to turn us away on sight.
Last week we tried the new Camille's Sidwalk Café location in Corona, one town over. We actually didn't want to, but the name, decor and setting made it seem sort of French-y. As America-hating Democrats, we were sort of obliged.
The place is hard to explain. It's sort of a quasi-deli, but with a strong, pungent undercurrent of yuppie-centrism. You know places like that when you walk in; right away you get that mingled odor of fresh dry-cleaning, Paco Rabanne and no sweat whatsoever.
Instead of sandwiches like a proper deli, this place specializes in something called "wraps". I know you're wondering, so I will tell you: yes, I did attempt to order my "wrap" in rhyming ebonics while backed by a basic percussion beat. I know you weren't wondering, but consider it confirmed: yes, I am that lame. It would have worked, though, if Mrs. Pops would have taken some time out in her youth to learn to beat-box properly. Honestly, what do you girls do when you're 13? With guys it's all masturbation, movies about ninjas and beat-box practice.
Against my better judgment, I ordered a wrap. The one I got came with grilled chicken, provolone, black olives, cilantro, salsa and some kind of sour cream sauce. It also came with a side of tortilla chips and salsa.
I was about half way through my wrap when I was hit with a sudden revelation: hey, this food doesn't actually taste like anything! After that I was hit with a second revelation: chicken, salsa, sour cream rolled up in a piece of "flatbread"... hang on, am I eating a burrito?
The side of chips and salsa sort of confirmed it for me. I was totally eating a burrito. This "Camille's" is a Mexican restaurant disguised as a French yuppie bistro. It couldn't have been more ridiculously obvious if it had been wearing an Izod shirt and a beret. Only because it doesn't say it's a Mexican restaurant, they can totally overcharge and then gyp you on the rice and beans.
Can't the brown man have anything for himself? It isn't enough that we stole half his land after the war in the 1840s; we had to co-opt his delicious imported* dishes, the work of five hundred years of Spanish and native cultures fused together by age and sex and fire and blood only to be warped and emasculated and made 100% flavor-free by being re-branded as the white man's "wrap".
The so-called "wrap" isn't just a burrito, it's a racist burrito. I was eating a racist burrito.
Now that I think about it, it wasn't completely flavorless. I think I could just detect a small hint of cultural oppression, genocide-by-assimilation and capitalist labor exploitation. Turns out they all sort of taste like cilantro.
Democrat that I am, I was livid. I was standing there inside the restaurant a little bit later, doing what I do for 90% of my time in restaurants anymore, standing outside the bathroom waiting for one of my kids to get done taking a dump. It's a glamorous life, I know.
But I'm standing there, all puffed up with sanctimony, glaring at the girl behind the counter. Just as soon as I was done with what I was doing, I was going to give her what-for, an all inclusive history lesson laying out how she was harming a proud culture with her bland, self-alienated food. I think her name was Esperanza. She was going to hear it from me.
Whatever song was playing over the in-house speaker system ended and another one started. At first I got a little more angry because it sounded like some folk-y guitar crap. But then the girl started singing and it sounded... familiar. Then it dawned on me: holy crap, they're playing the Sundays! I hadn't heard anything by the Sundays in ages and ages. It was "You're Not The Only One I Know". Man, whatever happened to them? That Harriet Wheeler could really, really sing. Sure, it was kind of wussy music, but it was pre-Nirvana alt-pop, as good as it got at the time. Why in God's name did they stop making records? They were a really good band.
And that was it. I forgot to be militant after that. How can a person be militant to jangly British guitar pop? The people who run Camille's are clever, clever culture-undermining bastards. Draw the white people in, overcharge them for burritos and then soothe them with music that appeals to them both as a soothing atmospheric and as nostalgia. I see you working, Camille's. I only wish I weren't completely powerless to stop it.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.0
*= all the way to California from... California.