I’d have written an entire post dedicated to…
…this bowl of smooth lentil soup that you’d want to cuddle up with in the cold.
…this disc of bread, undulated with all the uneven craters and peaks, charred bits and soft pockets, doughy bits and wafery bits, that you’d expect from anything fresh and artisanal.
…this breakfast bowl of glossy caramelized onions and mutton chunks, scattered all over a swamp of gravy soaked, tender and chewy bread chunks.
…this baked carb grenade, that…
…explodes into rice fragrant with the sweet zing of cinnamon, noodles, ouzi lamb, chicken, raisins and toasted almond slivers.
…this mound of buttery rice grains, moist lemony chicken and gravied onions, veiled by a fairy-like wing of bread.
But I won’t. I won’t talk about any of these dishes, nor give them a name, nor identify the Iraqi restaurant in Deira that served them. All I’ll say is that (1) it wasn’t Bait Al Baghdadi, where I had a great experience in comparison, and (2) it does serve Iraqi masgouf. If you want to play detective on which restaurant this is, go ahead, be my guest.
Yes, I am boiling mad. Seething, frothing, foaming at the mouth with anger. I thought I’d give it at least a day before slamming the keys on this blogpost, but two hours later, I still feel so violated that I had to write it out. You will only see this post days after I’ve written it – I have to give myself some leeway in case my stance softens and I decide not to publish this post.
But a week down the line, if you’re reading this post, then you know my stance is the same. And if I’m harsh, then so be it. Because I truly believe that racist restaurants should not be forgiven even if they put out earth-shatteringly good food.
Addressed to the hateful restaurant that brought out the worst in me with their primitive racist attitude:
1) you fail to give me a menu unless I beg for it,
2) you take three times as long to serve me as everyone else of a nationality that feels more akin to yours – even when you’ve got barely three tables to service,
3) you make me walk up to you to ask for tea, rather than politely stop by my table in a show of true Arabian hospitality,
4) you scoff at me condescendingly when I ask you to pack my leftovers for a takeout,
5) you mutter under your breath and turn away when I ask you for the bill – for the second time,
6) and most obnoxiously, you deny doing all of the above when called out on it. In fact, you try to turn your back on me and leave midway as I’m talking to you (politely. I don’t believe in impolite loud complaints that ruin the meals of guests around me),
7) you do all of the above, not once, not twice, but to some measure on all THREE of the times I have visited you…
IF you do most or all of the above…if you don’t just have uniformly crappy service, but crappy service targeted at diners based on which country they call home…then you may as well put a sign up on your door saying: “The following nationalities, please STAY THE HECK OUT: [pick your hated nationalities]”
I’m sure you, racist restaurant, don’t give two sumac sprinkles about my opinion. You certainly didn’t at the restaurant, but regardless, I think it’s important that people share these experiences and don’t pander to restaurants like yourself that are openly racist. And no, condescendingly suggesting that you’d comp the meal will not help. I didn’t walk in for free food, even though your stereotype of me would suggest just that.
Back to my readers: The reason I don’t name the restaurant is because it’s well known that restaurants in this part of the world can fling a lawsuit at your feet for uncovering their dirty laundry. I’m not saying this happens everyday, or that it’s ever happened in this city – just that it could, at some point it could. I have neither the monetary resources, the courage, nor the desire to get into a legal battle that would, most inevitably, favor the restaurant no matter what I say or do. In my opinion, the best way to deal with racism in most parts of the world, the U.S. included, is to take your business elsewhere and keep your sanity intact.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Don’t take names of restaurants, I don’t want this blog space becoming Haters’ Central. All I want to know is whether you would be willing to overlook the racist hand that serves you brilliant food.