Pass the Salt-Police
No one will deny that we Puerto Ricans are proud of our culture and very proud of our cuisine. Much of our food contains – dare I say it: salt. It’s part of who we are, have been, and will be. The unique blend of salt and a variety of flavors in every Puerto Rican meal is to be savored and enjoyed.
It’s hard to understand how any Puerto Rican would consider making a law to cast our food aside and recommend ways to punish restaurants that prepare and serve Puerto Rican dishes.
A recently-introduced piece of legislation by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz would prohibit the use of salt in the preparation of restaurant food: “No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises.”
The penalty for breaking this ‘law’ includes fines of up to $1,000 for each individual addition of salt by restaurant staff, whether before, during or after cooking.
Should restaurants owners in New York City be fined $1,000.00 per plate for serving sofrito or habichuelas? Should they actually be fined for using Adobo or Sazon to season meals?
The Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers that works together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices had this reaction to Assemblyman Ortiz’s bill: “Forcing a restaurant to stop using salt is the equivalent of telling a carpenter to stop using nails or a barber to not use scissors.”
Assemblyman Ortiz, we have a budget to pass and some very difficult work to do in Albany. This does not include making legislation to eliminate salt or sending the salt police out to fine restaurant owners. A legislator’s job does not include designing ways to penalize hard working New Yorkers who prepare meals for families and individuals to enjoy.
I suggest that Assemblyman Ortiz check his birth certificate and then join me for a bowl of asopao de pollo with a side order of tostones. Then he should lay this plan aside along with any plans he has to join the salt police for photo-ops when any salt ban goes into effect.
If not, Bobby Flay may just have to step up to challenge Assemblyman Felix Ortiz to a Throw Down. The Assemblyman can make his arroz con gandules “sin sal” and Bobby Flay can use any traditional Puerto Rican recipe that has brought families and friends together for generations.
Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz is the Chair of the New York State Senate Puerto Rican/Latino Caucus
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