Friday, June 09, 2006

Say Cheese Please

Something to smile about? It depends upon whether you are more comfortable saying cheese or queso.

In Philadelphia, where cheesesteak sandwiches reign supreme, the inability to order in English, may get you an instant language enunciation class. Joseph Vento, owner of Geno's, has his own American indoctrination program in place. His philosophy is simple and put succinctly on the signs that hang in his restaurant,


Joseph, whose family came from Italy, has a decidedly Italian accent. He knows he has an accent, but is willing to teach anybody interested (and hungry enough) how to say cheesesteak. Although cheesesteak, may sound funny due to the accents involved, the bottom line in Joseph's book is the ability to say it in it's English form and be grateful to be here to say it. To him, that is all that counts.

Unfortunately, there are those that think he is discriminating. Imagine that... how ungrateful can one be to not appreciate the fact that someone is willing to give you a FREE English lesson? When in Mexico, I appreciated the fact that the locals helped me be able to say many words where it was comprehensible to everyone involved. I never have screamed discrimination at a waiter or waitress in a Mexican/Italian/French/Chinese or other foreign restaurant because they corrected me on how to say a word I stumbled over on the menu.

But maybe I should. And maybe I will in the future should Joseph be sued by those threatening him with discrimination lawsuits. And maybe the large majority of Americans who believe speaking English embodies being American will take umbrage too the next time they are corrected.

Maybe menu's in foreign languages should just be banned. That's right, say it American. Call raw fish, raw fish ya know. No more wondering what the secret ingredients are, let's get everyone on the same playing field. As Americans, we all might loose weight when the menu suddenly is no longer exotic or appealing.

Now wouldn't that be something to smile about?

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posted by Is It Just Me? at 1:34 PM