By Rinku Sen
On this Fourth of July, I will be eating hot dogs. While I was trying to fit in as an Indian immigrant child throughout the 1970's, they represented the quintessential American food. I begged my mother to let me have them for dinner every night instead of chicken curry and rice. She nixed the hotdogs but sometimes allowed spaghetti and meatballs -- straight from a can. Hotdogs were "invented" by German immigrants serving their traditional sausages in the hustling streets of the new world, and spaghetti, everyone knows, came from Italy. If I had been celebrating Independence Day 150 years ago, however, neither would have been on the menu. In those days, Germans and Italians weren't considered Americans, or even white. When they fought over the most lucrative street corner for food vendors in the 1880's, the press reported these incidents as "race riots."
I'll be sharing this holiday with a group of restaurant workers, largely immigrants. Along with the hotdogs, we'll have tacos, samosas, falafel. According to one side of the immigration debate, we can keep our goodies to ourselves. America doesn't want them, or us.