I read this article on food, politics and Che Guevara a few weeks back and have been wanting to write about it since. There is so much colliding here in one little food truck; A revolutionary figure that has been commercialized and made into a symbol for the supposed freedom that comes from revolution, capitalization on that trend to sell product, freedom of speech, people still bitter over the terror they still remember and well… great food. The beginning of the brief article reads:
“Food trucks have grown up, and some are going to college–which may explain why this food truck has donned the equivalent of a Che Guevara t-shirt. For the past two months, the Che Truck has been driving around Irvine with a huge silhouette of the freedom fighter/mass murderer (depending on your point of view) and serving snacks like the “Fidel Castro Empanada.” Some Cuban-Americans in Irvine have expressed offense.”
Food Practice blog is about the practice of approaching food, preparing food, and eating food consciously. I briefly mentioned that this approach was also political in nature in this post. The truth is that the choices we make in our personal lives are absolutely political. Every dollar we spend is a vote for something. In the case of the Che Food Truck, clearly there is much by way of political commentary going on, despite what the owners say.
Here’s the thing, Che Guevara has become a pop icon posthumously. I’m not sure what he would say about that now, but its no surprise really. In his very short life he was was an Argentine Marxist, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat, military theorist, and major figure of the Cuban Revolution. And for all those nascent Cubaphiles enamored with the handsome revolutionary, there is no denying the fact that there is a whole generation of people that know him as a terrorist and assassin, with memories that still torment them.
So here comes this truck with a smart money producing brand, and the Cubans in exile living in this neighborhood, lose it. They demand it be changed and really, all these truck owners want is to make money and they were savvy enough to know that packaging their food in a pop icon figure would get them that. That its inflammatory is obvious, even though the owners say they didn’t know it would be.
The point is, that they have a constitutional right to call their truck and dishes whatever they want. Despite the fact that I too, see Che as a man that resorted to violence and terror to get his point across, making him someone whose ideology I cannot support, I wholeheartedly support all of our rights to freedom of speech. I can’t support people that become offended and mount a public outcry for censorship. Its just not constitutional, and I never want to be in a place where something I need to say becomes silenced.
So… I say don’t buy food there if it offends you. Respect their rights to plaster whatever they want on their truck and to sell Fidel Castro Empanadas. If it isn’t something you can support, don’t. But please don’t try to take away a right that you yourself would hold dear for yourself. Let your dollars speak for you, and always eat good food!