“Immigrants Make America Great”

“Immigrants Make America Great” November 17, 2019

American ingenuity–you can’t beat it! Even if it’s by America’s immigrants.

Two guys just opened a new restaurant last week that is located right in the middle of this nation’s controversy about immigration–only one block from the Capitol, in Washington, D.C. The name of this new concept for a restaurant is Immigrant Food. What a great name considering our recent politics about this subject.

Immigrant Food serves various international dishes. One mixed drink is named Across the Border. The place caters especially to the lunch crowd. It’s owners describe it as a “fast-casual” restaurant. I wonder if these owners have thought of naming some sandwich The Wall and asking President Donald Trump if he would be the first to eat it. I bet they could stir up something in the kitchen that better all those McDonalds burgers Trump reportedly likes to waffle down.

One of the owners of Immigrant Food is no novice about the history of immigration in the USA. Peter Schechter is a veteran, political consultant in the city’s Beltway who speaks six languages. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Austria and Germany.

Schechter says of the recent, toxic, polarization of the attitudes of U.S. citizens toward immigration, “This isn’t the America I recognize. . . . Somehow,  it has become normal to disparage, to feel you can talk down to immigrants, like immigrants are not good for the country. Immigrants have been the foundation of [America’s] growth and vibrancy. This country has been great again and again and again because of immigrants.”

The owners even have cultural projects such as teaching English to immigrants and encouraging volunteer work, such as visiting immigration detention centers. And they have a website named The Think Table which encourages discussion about immigration.

The other co-founder of Immigrant Food is Chef Enrique Linardo. He immigrated to the USA five years ago from Venezuela. He has a restaurant two miles away from Immigrant Food named Seven Reasons, which is sophisticated dining that requires reservations. The day Immigrant Food opened, last week, Esquire magazine identified Linardo’s Seven Reasons restaurant as “the best new restaurant in America.” Both Schechter and Linardo are experts about food.

Because Washington D.C. is the capital of the USA, it has a lot of immigrants. So, Immigrant Food restaurant has a slogan–United at the Table. Co-owner Schechter explains, “The table, the restaurant, has always been a place where people unite.”

Indeed, historians of antiquity, especially New Testament scholars, have a name for it–Table Fellowship. This concept of old meant that companionship happens more at the time when people gather together for eating and drinking than at any other time. Those who lived in some community during ancient history, but were not in good standing socially therein, did not have a place “at table” as it was called.

Immigrant Food is even selling T-shirts and other paraphernalia with slogans on them such as Immigrants Make America Great as a retort to President Donald Trump’s red-colored caps that read Make America Great Again.

(Writing this post is making me hungry for some immigrant food.)



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