Restaurant critic Nancy Miller who writes for The Courier-Journal had a very delicious meal at Palermo Viejo, so I've learned. I'm not one to read random restaurant reviews from cities I don't live in or have immediate plans on visiting, but this review of the Louisville, Kentucky, Argentinian eatery caught my attention because Miller not only choose to review the meal, but the meal that another person was having at the table next to her. A baby's meal. A baby who was having breastmilk.
Miller's review starts out raving about the delectable dishes such as fideos al estofado and cerdo con repollo and how she wants to eat eat eat at Palermo Viejo as much as possible. Then she takes up issue with a mother breastfeeding her child right there in the restaurant.
Miller, who makes certain readers know is also a mom herself, is dining on pork and steak. She's fancy. Having a fancy meal. She's so fancy she doesn't want to use the same fork and knife that she used for her appetizers for her dinner. She's so fancy that she thinks a breastfeeding mother should be draped in blankets. Or a light scarf. Miller cannot handle the sight of a baby enjoying breastmilk and she wanted the mother to cover up. How dare she breastfeed right there in plain sight of her beef?! Perhaps all vegetarians should now start asking Nancy Miller to hide herself beneath a blanket while she enjoys her meat. Perhaps all appetizer forks and knives should run and hide after Nancy uses them for how dare they be re-used on dinner!
Check out all she has to say on this breastfeeding mom, in her review ... for a restaurant:
I'm all for eschewing baby formula for the real thing. But I wish the nursing mother at an adjoining table would have thought to bring a cover-up or would not have assumed that other diners would welcome being that close to what is undeniably a natural and loving bonding experience. However, Palermo Viejo is the kind of place where guests feel comfortable to be themselves and revel in the togetherness that's fostered by a much beloved neighborhood restaurant. That's a good thing, but so is a cover-up.
I love the use of eschewing there. The impersonal feel of the word is a dead giveaway that Miller is one of the more than half of Americans who think breastfeeding is obscene. Just the use of that word tells me that. Her use of the words "natural and loving bonding experience" won't make up for the fact she mentions "cover-up" twice. In her mind, Palermo Viejo just isn't the kind of place to breastfeed. Kentucky law, however, says that a mother can breastfeed wherever and whenever baby is hungry. And that no person can interfere with that mother and child's right. Maybe Miller can eschew on that. Moms deserve respect, especially from other moms. If she didn't like the sight of it, maybe she should keep her eyes on her estofado.
Miller, realizing that breastfeeding moms and those who support us aren't happy about this, typed out an explaination on her Facebook page in what Mommyish writer Maria Guido calls a "sorry, not sorry" apology. Agree. Wrote Miller:
I am not advocating that mothers avoid going out in public while breastfeeding. I wholeheartedly support the law that states they have the right to do so, but I do not think it is unreasonable to assume that not everyone wants to watch it. Nor was I advocating placing baby and breast under several layers of blankets. A scarf would do the trick and wouldn’t affect the baby in the least.
Several people called for me to apologize to the mother, other nursing mothers and, I assume, breasts in general. Since I did not shame or attack the mother, there is no apology needed and I don’t offer one.
Well then. Here is just another fine example of human beings being discriminatory and unapologetic about it to others. I also need to point out that there is a chance that Miller received a free meal because she is a restaurant reviewer, while the breastfeeding mother at the table next to her was a paying customer. A little human decency and kindness goes a long way. There was no reason for Miller to thinly-veil her disgust over the sight of a woman breastfeeding in her restaurant review. The Courier-Journal should be embarrassed. I think this is a fine opportunity for Palermo Viejo to issue a statement -- not that they were directly involved, but their name is associated with this incident due to Miller's review. It is an Argentinian eatery, and Argentinian women are known to very openly breastfeed without anyone thinking it's unusual, obscene, or necessary to cover up.
Breastfeeding moms, I hope, are not dissuaded from breastfeeding in public. We deserve respect. We have rights. Our babies deserve to eat just like everyone else with everyone else.
What do you think of this reviewer's choice to include the breastfeeding mother in her review?
Image via Caitlin Regan/Flickr