Omnivore - No more pork rinds

The New York Times published an op-ed column by former White House Chef Walter Scheib yesterday. Scheib ran the kitchen during both of Bill Clinton's terms and George Bush's first term.

The column was occasioned by the recent shocking revelation that recipes attributed to Cindy McCain on her husband's website were actually from the Food Network. Of course, this blows the subjects of Barack Obama's flag lapel pin and Hillary Clinton's cleavage out of the water. I'm sure we can expect George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson to grill Mr. Straight Talk about his wife's recipe theft.

Chef Sheib wonders why Americans are even interested in what their presidents eat. He writes:

As a chef, I understand how food can be a powerful political symbol. (Remember when George H. W. Bush used to make a point of saying he loved pork rinds?) But if there’s one thing I learned in the White House it’s that the dining habits of our first families aren’t all that revealing. After the Clintons left the White House, I stayed on for the first four years of the Bush administration and was surprised to see how similar were Mrs. Clinton’s and Laura Bush’s tastes: though very different women, they both liked Southwestern cuisine and spicy foods and ate relatively healthfully. Just about the only thing that’s changed in the menu is Mrs. Bush’s insistence on organic products — much to her husband’s surprise.

It’s been said over and over that this is a sea-change campaign — a black man or a woman could be our next president. So in the spirit of this change, let’s make another world-changing vow: let’s stop pretending our politicians and their families all own well-thumbed copies of “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook,” and let’s stop, once and for all, asking them for favorite family recipes.

When it comes to seeking clues about what lies in the hearts and minds of the candidates, there are better places to look than their palates — and their recipes.

It's true. Let's go back to wondering where a president or wannabe puts his penis, where he goes to church, where he gets his hair cut and where she buys her pants suits. These concerns are far more important than whether he eats arugula and removes the skin from fried chicken.

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