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Continuation of the thread below on Dominican, Puerto-Rican and "jerk chicken"

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Continuation of the thread below on Dominican, Puerto-Rican and "jerk chicken"

RST | Dec 18, 2002 02:59 PM

That thread has veered so far to the right that I was afraid that if I added another response it would fall off the edge of the world. Thus this new thread. The ff is in response to Zim's link to the Trib/Eng on jibaritos:

I was advised through private email that Monica Eng is half-Puerto-Rican and has maintained an interest in this heritage. If this is so, then it is high time for the Tribune to come out with a full-page feature with the definitive guide to Dominican, Cuban and Puerto-Rican in Chicago. I want a short history. I want a background account of the immigration patterns and assimilation process. I want a guide to geography and regional culinary traditions. I want to see a reliable guide to the famous dishes (the way it is prepared in Chicago, the way it is prepared in the islands, the way it is prepared in New York or Miami). I want fearless reporting of as many businesses as possible: even (or specially) if they exist outside the Humboldt Park area and even if they are ramshackle mom-and-pops with one rickety table. I want to get a sense of the range of the cuisine that is represented/available in Chicago: is everyone repeating the same thing? are quirks and idiosyncracies and individual touches still apparent? I want a clear-eyed, gut-level judgement on the "scene": is it still authentic, is it still close to roots. If not, what has changed and is this for the better.

I would love it if Achy Obejas were called in to collaborate on such a feature. Now, that's one hell of a writer. When she was writing "entertainment" pieces for (I think) Tempo (in the mid 90s), she was covering truly funky things, outrageously funny and slyly subversive things like some Mexican drag queen bar (the kind where you have to be frisked to get in) way in the far south. I see that she has started writing for the Trib once again and see that as one little gleam of hope for the paper.

They should take this idea and run with it to come up with a James Beard award winning piece. The material is there. The award is waiting for them if they would only rise up to the challenge.

RST

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