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Food is the New Sex

Do The Right Thing

We have lots of fancy places in Cairo that will turn you away if you're not deemed hip or rich enough. But a pizza place?

Last week I wrote about pizza. I wanted to know what places I should check out, do my own sort of best pizza in Cairo competition. Big pout. Where are you guys? Still waiting for your responses on that one. So far I have to go to the Domino’s Pizza in Lebanon Square (Thanks Mazin!), but otherwise I’ll be eating burgers in Zamalek until you guys let me know what’s up.

One of the places I was thinking about trying for my pizza competition was Pizza Mia in Zamalek. Not anymore.

Did you watch Do The Right Thing? It’s a Spike Lee joint. Famous film. It’s about a pizzeria in an African-American neighborhood in Brooklyn in the 1980s. The owners of the pizzeria are Italian and they don’t really like black people, which is problematic, because all their customers are black.

As you can see it’s a racism issue.

I’ve encountered much racism in my day even, on occasion, on a personal level, right here in Cairo. Most people say, “You’re an American, so it doesn’t really count.” I guess what they mean by that is that, “You got the power, your country is the colonizer,” but that doesn’t do you much good when someone spits at you or throws a rock at you or rips you off (khawaga tax) or wants to kill you cause your skin is the wrong color and your Arabic accent is off. (Shubra, during the revolution.)

Here’s a typical example: When the first McDonald’s opened here, downtown, back in the mid-‘90s, we were pretty psyched about it. At first some people didn’t get the concept though; they would come in, sit down, and expect a waiter to bring them a menu.

Anyway, one day I was in there because, you know, burgers and fries taste good, and while standing in line at the counter, I was next to this dude whose tray was all loaded up and he had to hold it with both hands. He needed a straw for his drink and asked the guy at the counter to get him one. The dweeb ignored him, so trying to be helpful, I pulled a paper-wrapped one out of the sanitary dispenser on the counter and placed it on his tray. He turned to the guy at the counter and said, “Can you give me another straw? The foreigner touched this one.”

Sadly this still goes on, and since the revolution it’s gotten worse. It’s the pizzeria in the Brooklyn ghetto all over again. Although, clearly it cuts both ways. Last week there was a nasty Tweet from one of the co-owners of Pizza Mia. Don’t go looking for it now, because the Twitter handle and the Facebook page have been taken down, but many of us saw it and commented on it at the time. It said:

“Egyptians are too dirty and disrespectful as a race to deserve having the pleasure of a bathroom in a restaurant.”

Whoa. Y’all take a chill. You got to cool that shit off. And that’s the double-truth, Ruth.