Illegal Immigrants & Gastronomic Stereotypes | Ask a Mexican | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Illegal Immigrants & Gastronomic Stereotypes 

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Dear Mexican: In an earlier column, you mentioned that conservatives can’t have an argument against illegal immigration without it degenerating into a diatribe against culture. Here’s an argument that has nothing to do with culture: in California, we now have a severe water shortage. I work for a municipal water agency. We are asking that people ration 20 percent of their water usage. We must ration 15 to 17 percent of our water in order to make sure we don’t run out of water. Considering that the illegal immigrant population of California is approximately 16 percent, we would achieve our rationing goal just by illegal immigrants going back to where they came from. —Wet Back, But Not the Wetback Kind

Dear Gabacho: Your work has given you agua on the brain, amigo. Where did you get the stat that California’s illegal-immigrant population is 16 percent? Even if you take the overinflated 2008 estimate of the Golden State’s illegals (3.2 million) claimed by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR, which many Know Nothings cite as a legitimate think tank but which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group for their connections to bona fide racists) and square the stat with the Census Bureau’s 2008 guess for California’s total population (36.8 million), the final percentage of indocumentados is about 8.7 percent—still a significant chunk of cambio, but almost half of what you claimed, Wet Back. But you like numbers and conservation, so refry this: a 2005 California Urban Water Conservation Council study found almost half of all residential water use in the state was for landscaping. Want to achieve your rationing goals and then some, Wet Back? Let lawns die. But, of course, gabachos would never allow that to happen, more than willing to behold the bean in a Mexican’s eye without considering the burrito in their own eye.

Dear Mexican: I decided to move definitivamente to America two years ago. I started working a year and a half ago, and I’ve noticed that, for some reason, my co-workers think that because I’m Mexican, and very proud of it, the only kind of food I’ll eat is ... Mexican food! I must say, there’s nothing better for la cruda than menudo, and I could eat all the mole my estómago will allow, and that I cannot die before I have a nice plate of zacahuil (y arriba San Luis Potosí!), but, to be honest with you, I also like Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Peruvian, Middle Eastern, French ... I think you get it. Why is that? —Not as Square as You (Gringos) Think

Dear Wab: Bienvenido to los Estados Unidos! On behalf of all raza, allow me to present you with your standard-issue poncho, sombrero, bandoliers, mustache, gold tooth, taco belly and fake Social Security number! Chistes aside, does such a gastronomic stereotype really surprise you? Never mind that Mexican food is an amalgamation of various culinary traditions (Lebanese, Spanish, French, and indigenous are just the most obvious and pervasive), or that—as I’ve written before in my column and book (buy it!)—Mexico is one of the world’s top consumers of ramen: if you’re a Mexican in the United States, gabachos expect you to subsist on a steady diet of yellow cheese, chili, pinto beans and beer. Do the Mexican a favor, Not as Square: cast out the burrito in your co-workers’ eyes, then go out and pound the Herradura.

Ask the Mexican at TheMexican@askamexican.net, MySpace.com/ocwab, or write to him via snail mail at: Gustavo Arellano, P.O. Box 1433, Anaheim, CA 92815-1433!

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