People like to talk about how food unites us. How food is a common bond of family and togetherness, and sharing a meal can introduce others to an unfamiliar culture in a universally understood way. How food is a pathway to empathy. There might be some truth to that, but by and large it’s empty and platitudinous. It does nothing and helps no one.
When I was in Israel last summer, an American from my group threw a vaguely optimistic metaphor about food and unity at a local restaurateur, and he said something that I’ll never forget: “Please, take a bowl of my hummus into Gaza and see if it stops the bombs from flying over my family’s heads.”
If you need to fall back onto easily digestible mantras about “something something togetherness” to try and cope with what happened last night—a president who was elected on the back of cartoonishly evil promises like building a giant wall on our southern border, unleashing mass deportation squads, and banning an entire religion from entering the country—then that’s absolutely fine. You do whatever you need to get through the day and the next four years.
But if you want to show a community of people who you’re scared for that you really care, you have to empower them economically. You do everything you can to put money in their pockets and give them the necessary mobility to fight whatever is coming.
Go find an immigrant-owned restaurant, fire the whole menu, and tip well. Go eat some alambres, shawarma, fesenjun, pani puri, kinilaw, feijoada, bun thit nuong, mole poblano, khao soi, bourekas, mesir wot, soondubu jjigae, and arepas. It’s a real and meaningful way to show that what happened last night is not OK, and that it doesn’t reflect who and what we truly care about as Angelenos and as Americans.
If you need a restaurant recommendation, hit me up.