Friday, October 12, 2007

Desert-lunchtime: delicacy and idiocy

After living here for four (already?!) months now, I finally got around to trying Feig's Deli for lunch today. A good-ol' East-Coast Jewish grocery/lunch joint, here in the Sonoran desert. It even has 'the best corned beef in the nation.' Seriously...along with Brooklyn-baked bobkas, fresh bagels...Doc Brown sodas...not-overly-dilled cucumber salad...

"Deli"--short, not for delicious, (although it is), but for delicatessen...
But the word, as "urban-Jewish" as its associations may be in this country,
actually has French origins.
(Really, now, did you know that?
Yes, this is a word-nerd moment,
as I digest my corned-beef-on-fresh-rye.)

The word comes into English via German--delikatessen--which in turn comes from from the German borrowing of the French word "delicatesse, delicate," as in 'daintiness, dainty.' Back in the day--the concept of getting ready-to-eat things evidently meant spending lots of money for carefully prepared dainty things...Today it's sandwiches and pickles...mmm.
(Another theory is that it comes from delikat & essen, which means 'to eat.')
And we still refer to fancy-foods as 'delicacies,' no?

A side note--'delicado' in Spanish can mean 'picky; hard to please'... one should be when it comes to corned-beef-on-rye, verdad?

Now for today's idiocy.
It has nothing to do with the deli.
It has to do with the Arizona/Sonora Desert Museum, 18 miles to the west.
And it's not necessarily the museum's fault.
(I love the museum--it's one of the best museum/botanical/zoological garden complexes in the country--any visitor to southern Arizona HAS to go there...)

The idiocy has to do with a situation that has developed due to flags being flown there.
For half a century, the museum, which is a private not-for-profit scientific/educational organization, has flown the flags of the U.S. and Mexico side by side. This would be logical, since the Sonora desert is a trans-national ecosystem...Well, with recent immigration-issues, the flags have become the targets of 'complaints' from various ignorant voices--AND even death threats for the park staff and its animals!! So, partly as a matter of public safety, the museum board decided to take down, not just the Mexican flag, but also the U.S. flag and the Arizona flag...and even the flagpoles...
Not just idiocy, but dangerous idiocy. Dangerous, jingoistic, ultra-nationalistic, xenophobic idiocy.
The museum is not a political place! The desert IS IN BOTH COUNTRIES!
The mere presence of a neighboring country's flag is not 'threatening,' is it?
Besides, this is a part of the country that historically was Mexico--southern Arizona was 'purchased' by the U.S. government in the mid-19th century; the local people didn't cross the border; the border crossed them...

So--should airports in the U.S. now no longer fly flags of other countries?!
If an ethnic restaurant displays flags of other nations--is it going to be threatened as well, now?
Where is this illogic heading....
Are people draping themselves in flags in order to try to hide their ignorance?
Or are they purposely putting their ignorance on display, turning national symbols into symbols of national shame?

This anti-'other' mentality is alarmingly and increasingly EVERYwhere:
Locally, obviously, it's Anglos vs.'s also African-Americans vs. African-refugees...
In Germany, it's Germans vs. Russia, neo-Nazis vs. any dark-skinned Spain it's Spaniards vs. Costa Rica it's Costa Ricans vs. the Domincan Republic, it's Dominicans vs. Haitian France it's the far-right vs. North Holland it's the Secular vs. extremist Belgium, which is divided between its own two halves--Flemish and French-speaking, the opposing political parties are 'united' in their stand to keep out foreigners...and needless to say, in Iraq, it's Sunni vs. Shiite...and let's not even begin to discuss the divide between those who drive Fords vs. those who drive Chevys...between those who have 'christian-fish' and 'darwin-fish' on the backs of their cars...
So much for 'tolerance'...


On a lighter note, the EuroStar train that links London to Paris and Brusels has a new arrival/departure station in London--the refurbished St. Pancras Station. (click here to read today's IHT article)
So--gone is the irony of arriving from France at 'Waterloo' station, named after the British victory that sent Napoleon on his way to permanent exile as Britain became the world power of the day...

I like the way the article ends:

On an open space at the end of the rail platforms at St. Pancras, the developers commissioned a 30-foot-high sculpture of a couple embracing, as if in reunion after a rail journey.

The artist, Paul Day, initially intended to show them kissing, said Luddy, the London & Continental executive.

"We wanted to create this romantic atmosphere, but, being English, we didn't think kissing was quite right," Luddy said. "So now they're touching foreheads.

Kissing would have been too French."

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