Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Restaurant Backlash

Monday's hearing on trans fat, since it was heavily weighted to all of the professional do-gooders who are paid to go to hearings and ponificate, seemed to settle the issue: trans fat is easily replaced and the replacement ingredients will have no impact on the taste of the food served. The only thing missing from Monday's menu was the restaurant owners themselves, who either couldn't wait for over an hour on the disgraceful line, or had to be in their restaurant supervising their meal preparation.

As a corrective, Newsday's Brian Virasami, went out to some of these owners and found, as one might expect, an entirely different worldview. As the owners told the paper the shortening issue is not easily remedied and, as Marci Levi of East Village Cajun said, :"the texture and taste of her desserts...simply aren't achievable without Crisco shortenings, and she vowed to put them in her cookies and cakes even if the city imposes the ban..." As Levi says, "This is not Communism, this is America. People have a choice on what to eat."

And the point that we have already made about the difficulty of transition is echoed by Modesto Hernandez of Queens Fried Chicken in Long Island City: If we have to use the vegetable or soy oils, that's too different...As a matter of fact, when I took over this place, I tried to put that oil in there. It tasted different and the people started to complain-we were losing business."

Hernandez also worries about the cost of the transition and others worry about the availability of alternatives. As Newsday underscores, these difficulties are precisely why the Alliance and the Latino Restaurant Association told the Health Department that there is a need for greater phase-in period to insure that the health of neighborhood restaurants will not be compromised.