Best of Denver 2014 Readers' Poll
Regarding the finalists for Best Central American Restaurant — Cafe Brazil, Cuba Cuba, Lola, Rincon Argentino and Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria:
Perhaps it is a gross oversight, but according to even just the United Nations' list of recognized nations, neither Brazil nor Cuba nor Argentina are considered to be Central American countries. These are generally considered to be SOUTH American countries. No restaurants of Central American focus are in this list at all. For reference, please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_America.
Best of Denver Readers' Poll
Strangely enough, the writers of the poll saw fit to make a distinction among European regions with the Best German/Eastern European sub-category, listing a couple of German and Czech restaurants each.
Is it possible that this category might have been mistakenly labeled as "Central American"? One would believe so, but then the category also lists a "Best South American Restaurant" sub-category, the nominees of which are of Brazilian, Peruvian and Argentinian focus.
Until recently, I was Denver's first and only elected official of Central American extraction, being the first person in my family born in the United States. I bear a particular pride in both my Hispanic-ness and my Central American-ness. While I understand how difficult it could be for your average geography-challenged American to not understand the difference, I cannot excuse a Denver weekly publication, and to not make a proper geographical distinction only communicates that privilege has caused your staff to take leave of their geographical senses. It reads that your staff simply cannot be bothered to care because it doesn't affect them either way.
We Latinos fight hard for recognition and respect in this country. Is it too much to ask to insist that, if Eastern Europeans can be differentiated, Westword take the pains to understand that Ibero-America is not only Mexico or Argentina (in this case)?
The way to make this right is to change the heading of the category or merge the two categories. Perhaps the "Central American" can be renamed "Latin American."
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Please let me know how this will be rectified.
Patricia Calhoun responds: On March 27, our thirtieth-anniversary edition of the Best of Denver will hit the streets. As always, the issue will include hundreds of categories with winners chosen by our editorial team; a fraction of those categories will also have readers' choice winners, as determined by the Best of Denver Readers' Poll that's been running online for two months. Since we already have our say in picking Westword's winner in these categories, we do not tell our readers who they must pick — even if they pick McDonald's for the Best French Fries. In all cases, the readers — not the editorial team — provided their own nominees when they voted, and while their choices may be geographically impaired in the Central American category, those finalists are their choices. We can assure you that even without consulting Wikipedia, our editorial team will be sure to stick with a Central American restaurant for our winner.
As for next year, we'll consider replacing that category with Best Latin American — but if our readers nominate McDonald's, we won't give them an F.