Friday, January 26, 2018

Black Republican Dining

This is a post-graduate-level chowhounding tip.

People who haven't spent a lot of time in African-American neighborhoods don't know about black Republicans. The only portrayal I've ever seen in media was satirical. The great Key and Peele absolutely killed it:

The cliche of Black Republicans is that they're square, uptight, irritable, hard-working, detail-oriented, and constantly stressing qualities like motivation, pride, and achievement. And if you ever come across a Black Republican-owned restaurant, you should eat there, because it will always be great.

How will you know? Because the place will be freakishly clean - to a level beyond any normalcy. The workers all hustle, and the place exudes an almost military efficiency. There's a certain palpable fear in the air. The boss looks for excuses to kick ass.

Same thing with Latin and Hispanic Republican restaurateurs. Of course, I'm not suggesting the reverse - that non-Republican Black/Latin/Hispanic restaurateurs are necessarily sloppy and slack. But the gleaming efficiency of their Republican counterparts is preternatural. It's boot camp level, and unmistakable when you spot it.

This rule of thumb doesn't work with white, mainstream American-owned restaurants. When such places are super-crazy clean and efficient, you should expect blandness. For their food to have any character, you actually want some grit. Also, this doesn't pertain to Black/Latino/Hispanic Republican-owned chain restaurants (of which there are vastly many). I'm talking about soul food (and Hispanic and Latin foods).

And that's why I ordered broiled fish last night. I'm not usually liable to order that in Mexican restaurants. Much less in Tex-Mex restaurants. Much less in a Tex-Méx Mexican restaurant in land-locked Dallas. But I know that the owner of Campuzanos (2618 Oak Lawn Ave) is more likely to chew his own arm off than to allow me to be served iffy fish.

It was slamming, actually. I'd written about their Waxahachie location a few years ago:

Stunning. Amazing. Magic. I understand that the place and the food look like a thousand other Mex-leaning Tex-Mex places, but....KILLER. I almost felt giddy from the quality. I understand it's a glossy big box suburban place on a big box suburban street. But if you eat the shrimp enchiladas and horchata and don't share my thrill, then I'm afraid I can't take you seriously. Just the chips and salsa had me nearly out of my mind trying to figure out how a food item with a short curve of declining results can be 10,000 times better than normal without literally adding crack.
The last time I tried the Waxahachie branch it was missing a certain inspiration. This Dallas location is now the good one, though I was worried by the Puerto Rican hostess and blasting meringue music (there is scant connection between Caribbean/Latino and Mexican/Hispanic cultures). But there's no mistaking the sense of zip - of military tidiness and efficiency

I needed that fish, too. I've been here only two days, and haven't eaten a bite of barbecue, yet my stomach's been roiling from all the meat and grease and cheese.

Hmm...I just realized: there actually was one very conspicuous media portrayal: would you imagine that Gus Fring voted Democrat?

No fish photo, sorry, because the lighting made it look radioactive.

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