Off-Ramp

Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

What to make of a taco truck’s name … One man’s slur is another’s nickname.

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WARNING: Some readers might be offended by the content of this blog entry, which contains a word that -- in English -- is anti-Semitic.
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Nicknames are weird in many languages. I’m not sure how you get “Jack” from John or “Hal” from Henry, or more to the point, “Chuy” from Jesus or “Pancho” from Francisco. (“Nacho,” from Ignacio, I get.)

But what to make of the nickname for Enrique, which is sometimes spelled “Quique,” is pronounced KEE-kay, and – in another form – adorns the taco truck that parks at Second and Beaudry downtown?


I was flabbergasted when I saw it for the first time Saturday night, and figured someone had noticed it before, but most of the gastronomes on Yelp! don’t have a big problem with it. It gets 4 out of 5 stars.

“i'm soooo glad my friend took me out after my work festivities cuz this is the scene i wanted to see in la!!! late night taco dining on the streets! with ramen from the truck if u want to too!” Chi N.

!I've never been here but this business has my name on it. Love it!!! Thank you Kike's tacos. I feel honored to be named after you. Maybe one day I will try you. -- Enrique E.

“So the name of the truck kinda offended my people, but I was more offended for being unable to eat anything (not counting some knock-off ho hos).” -- Tamar F.

The site Tacos y Ramen tackles the name head-on, -- ‘To clear any confusion, and to alleviate the concerns of one of my coworkers, Kike's Tacos is pronounced "Kee-kay's" and not something else’ – before giving it the coveted “four Jarritos” rating.

I’m trying to figure out what to make of this. I’ve only been in Los Angeles ten years (this month) and don’t want to be one of those PC types who tells everyone what to do and think, based on how it was done the last place they lived. (In Minnesota they probably would have taken up a collection to pay for the owner to change the name, then talked about how good it made them feel to be so sensitive to the needs of others.)

Since the owner probably doesn't mean offense, is this simply an interesting byproduct of the rich diversity of Los Angeles? Should the owner be more sensitive and change the spelling or the name? (The truck, and before that, a stand, has apparently been around for a long time.) Does anyone even use the term "K---" anymore as a pejorative? Frankly, all the anti-Semites I've known just used the word "Jew" and assumed their audience shared their feelings about Jews.

Please leave your thoughts below.

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