The collective lip smacking you heard last weekend was the sound of hundreds of New Yorkers fighting the man using a time-honored mode of civic rebellion: gluttony.
The People made a brave and courageous showing at the Red Hook Park soccer fields, offering hot-pepper-tinged moans of support to the Latin American food vendors who found out last week that the Parks Department wants to sell their vending permits on the open market — which means that the mom and pop vendors could have to compete with deep-pocketed corporations for space that they made desirable in the first place.
Some eater-activists polished not one $3 goat taco, but two! Others demonstrated their deep commitment to the cause with chorizo quesadillas the size of an infant’s leg. These papusa patriots didn’t even turn their backs on the issue when their paper plates began to turn yellow and dissolve under the weight of the delicacy’s grease. That’s commitment.
Activists on diets sacrificed the calorie-burning benefits of a morning at yoga with Big Gulp-sized cups of lime juice and little baggies of fresh mango.
Newcomers sampled the ceviche for the first time, stamping out old fears of fish sold outdoors!
The People came in great number to gorge in support and, of course, ruminate on the death of everything good in Brooklyn.
In between bites, a Manhattanite named Tatiana Ingliss expressed fears that her favorite spot for “authentic” Mexican food would fall victim to the same capitalist god that killed similar outdoor markets and other cheapie food landmarks.
“This is the only place in the city where you can find good, authentic Mexican food,” she said. Her companion, Howard Myint, nodded in agreement, his mouth otherwise engaged.
Saving the soccer tacos has just picked up where fighting Bruce Ratner left off to become the hottest cause celebre for some Brooklyn activists. A sexist once said that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Now we see that the digestive tract is also a good route to the raised fist of the activist, which in Brooklyn, in this day and age, is typically clenched around a computer mouse.
“Fight the power! Save the Soccer Tacos!” screamed the Web site, whitetrashbbq.com. “The Absolute Last Straw,” seethed Gowanus Lounge. “The Threat to Red Hook’s Street Food Paradise Unites New York Foodies” added New York Magazine’s dining blog, Grub Street. There was even a protest blog, http://savesoccertacos.blogspot.com, featuring a pre-made message to click off to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
But while the online indignation was directed at the city’s decision to invite other vendors — including deep-pocketed corporate food sellers — to sell at the site, some regulars were not exactly shocked.
“I believe all this will disappear,” said Cesar Guerra, a native of Guatemala who has made the trek to the Red Hook soccer fields from his Green-Wood Heights home for over 20 years.
Guerra likened the city’s decision to its planned upgrade of Coney Island. “For Spanish people, coming here is like a poor white person going to Coney Island and eating a hot dog,” he said. “But all these places are getting sophisticated, and what’s there now is getting chased away.”
Then, he stopped talking, took a swig of fresh tamarind juice and took a slow look at the jersey-topped men playing soccer in the center of the park. Then Guerra laughed.
“I think everyone has forgotten that this is all here because of soccer and soccer isn’t baseball, or basketball or golf. It is in the hearts of our countries. We don’t eat hot dogs, we eat tacos.”
The Kitchen Sink
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