The chapter opens with descriptions of different restaurants through which Biju has cycled: a French bistro (staffed by Mexicans and Indians); a “colonial” restaurant (staffed by Colombians, Tunisians, Ecuadorians, and Gambians); an American diner (staffed by Guatemalans). He asks where Guatemala and other countries are, and is surprised to hear that there are Indians in almost every country.
The restaurants of a certain kind of cuisine are staffed by people of nationalities that do not match the cuisine, providing another example of globalization, as people are able to learn and pick up cuisine styles that are not native to them. It is also interesting to note that the restaurants are all Western, and that the cuisine is valued more than the people who work there are.
Biju doesn’t know how to handle the people working in the kitchens and their different nationalities, to the point where he is relieved when a Pakistani is hired. The cook is shocked to hear in his letters that American restaurants would hire Pakistanis. At work Biju and the Pakistani trade insults, but Biju isn’t fully satisfied by this rivalry.
Biju, being new to this globalized setting, feels more comfortable when he has a culture from which he can separate himself. This provides another perspective on “home” by providing cultural institutions one can work against and feel isolated from.
Customers at the French restaurant begin to complain about the smell of the food, and are outraged when they realize that their “French” cuisine is being made by Indians, Algerians, and Moroccans. The owner of the restaurant fires Biju.
The complaints about the smell of the food and the people who cook it again demonstrate that while products from another culture might be valued, their people often are not.