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An Immigrant Nation

July 9, 2018

Where did your family come from?

Mine is from eastern Europe, but they have been here for awhile. Fortunately, my ancestors left before the Holocaust. But while Hitler’s Germany may have been the most efficient at slaughtering the Jews and other maligned populations of Europe, it wasn’t the first.

Earlier Jewish immigrants fled religious persecution and violence in their homelands. And they had to endure countless hardships, including further prejudice and discrimination in America.

It’s hard to imagine, especially living in New York, because Jews read largely as white. Italians are now white. Irish seem about as white as white can be. But this did not always used to be the case. We were all foreigners. We were all stereotyped. We were all reviled.

Well, maybe not the British. Except to the Native Americans. Who, incidentally, migrated here from the land bridge across Asia. Or at least that’s what I remember from my school days. The Dutch have always kept a low profile. And obviously, there’s a lot I’m leaving out.

So, what does any of this have to do with food?

Let me begin to answer that question with a question. How many of you were lucky enough to get the Embrace Hope box from Penzeys last week? The promotion ended on Saturday at 11:59pm but it was a doozy. They were giving away a free 2oz bottle of Mexican vanilla, a pico spice blend, and an Embrace Hope pin.

To everyone.

Have you seen the price of vanilla extract lately? This was huge. But the brand has gotten political lately, because Penzeys has come to the conclusion that we are a nation of cooks. And that cooking is all about love.

For this promotion, there was a specific message that Bill Penzey wanted to get out. It came on a card in the box, and this is what it said,

Embrace Hope

America is an immigrant nation. It is the strength of immigration that has propelled us from just another colony to leadership among the free world. One of the greatest gifts America receives from each new wave of immigrants is an ever refreshing sense of hope, that from our Spice travels we can tell you is so rare in most everywhere else around the globe. To see America through the eyes of immigrants is to see an almost magical place where, no matter where or who you were born, your hard work can amount to something, ane even better—a place where your children can receive an honest opportunity to earn a better future.

Each new wave of immigrants brings with it their own unique culture. We are so lucky to live in a time where the traditions of the wave we get to experience are so rich, and so very tasty, too. Please take a moment to celebrate the kindness they bring, appreciate how much they’ve given up to be here, and embrace the hope at the heart of their journey. They are our future. Now is the time to thank them.

Tonight, I’m having dinner at The City Beer Hall. You would probably never guess the heritage of chef Dimitrios. But here’s a hint. He grew up in Greek diners. Later this week, I’ve got plans to go to Shu’s in Guilderland. It’s part of the expanding list of actual Sichuan restaurants we have in the Capital Region. Our Mexican food options are expanding. The halal rice-plate style joints seem to be popping up everywhere.

There’s a new Afghani place opening up on Wednesday at 1839 Central Avenue in the original Garden Bistro 24 spot. It’s called Mazadar Mediterranean Kitchen, but I know nothing else about it.

And how could I not mention the new Indo-Chinese place on Central Avenue, which was most recently an Italian place, but had been two different Thai places before that?

I sincerely hope that our country can continue to be a place where people from all over the world come to pursue their dreams and improve their lives. Right now, our policies are moving in the wrong direction. But this is still a democratic republic, and I’m choosing to embrace hope that we can turn things around.

Thank you Bill Penzey for the inspiration.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Suzanne Gold permalink
    July 9, 2018 9:52 am

    Thanks Dan,
    Well said. Food brings memories of family, friends, occasions and comfort in joy and sorrow. It also brings lots of recipe sharing and love Penzey’s!

  2. July 9, 2018 10:16 am

    God bless Penzey’s. I was in the store yesterday and they told me they had been slammed, especially on Friday after the announcement appeared with Bill Penzey’s much longer and more pointed letter which is still available here https://www.facebook.com/Penzeys/posts/10156652232602834:0 .

  3. Karen permalink
    July 9, 2018 7:27 pm

    I didn’t get the Embrace Hope box (too late!), but I was happy to see Bill’s post, as always. I have a new (as of a year and a half) daughter in law coming to the USA as an new immigrant! It’ be wonderful to finally meet her in person and of course see my younger son after 3 years.

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