Letters to the editor

You say Tomato …

I read your review of Tomato Cocina Latina [Aug. 17] with some interest. On the night you reviewed the restaurant, I was one of the “trio of white guys” eating the Gringo salad talked about in the article. Apparently, although the reviewer did like the food and the prices, she found the service extremely slow that night.

I will agree the service that night was slow and awkward. But it is also true that in the many times I have eaten there, this was the only night that I had that experience. This is a restaurant that is just starting to gain in popularity, and sometimes adequate staffing can be a challenge when suddenly on one night the place gets much busier. I have been back to this restaurant quite a number of times, and I am not usually one to go back to a place again and again. My experience is that normally the service is attentive, informed, and most important — very friendly. I am always made to feel welcome and the servers always are enthusiastic about what they are serving.

The other thing that I have noticed about this little gem in an unlikely location is the clientele. Unlike the yuppie-laden, overpriced restaurants of downtown Asheville, there is a very eclectic mix here, and you will often find Latino families enjoying a nice meal in an attractive restaurant along with people from all segments of our city. Part of that diversity is encouraged by a waitstaff who are all bilingual (even the “gringos”!). This is a place I would recommend to anyone for the food, the ambiance, and the service.

— David Berkey

Open-and-shut case

Close your eyes. Imagine losing your child. Keep your eyes closed, then imagine that you lost that child because your president and government lied to you and your child. Keep your eyes closed. Feel the pain and outrage.

Now — open your eyes, America. Really open your eyes, America, and speak out against the distortions of this president, this administration, this government. Open your mouths and demand a real, responsible plan for an exit from Iraq. End the insanity.

— Sharon R. Connolly

Standing with Sheehan

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, I took part in a peace vigil at Lake Tomahawk in Black Mountain, along with 40 other members of our community. We were all there for different reasons, but we all stood in solidarity with Cindy Sheehan, a mother who lost her son while he served in Iraq.

Some 1,600 vigils were held around this country on Wednesday evening. Over 100,000 Americans took part in these vigils. These are people from all different walks of life who came together to promote discussion on the war in Iraq and the formation of a responsible plan for our exit.

I was honored to stand with my community members. I am proud that our country allows diverse opinions and encourages discourse on the events we face together. We should encourage participation at all levels and in all venues.

— Jennifer Nehlsen
Black Mountain

USDA’s mad cow program is failing

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture acknowledged more than a thousand violations of mad cow-disease regulations by U.S. meat plants since January 2004. Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a degeneration of brain tissue leading to erratic behavior and death. It is transmitted through feeding of infected brain and spinal tissues to other cows. Human consumption of infected beef leads to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a deadly dementia frequently confused with Alzheimer’s disease.

Federal safety measures, including the 1997 ban on feeding potentially infected cow body parts to other cows, have lacked adequate enforcement. Through its reluctance to institute an adequate testing program for diseased cattle, the USDA has failed to assess the true magnitude of the threat.

The latest disclosure further undermines consumer confidence in the safety of our nation’s meat supply. It provides one more reason to replace beef in our diet with a veggie burger or one of the other meat alternatives in the frozen-food section of our neighborhood supermarket.

— Alex Chilter

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