Presidential Dining


Presidential hopeful Scott Walker recently committed a food faux pas in perhaps the worst possible place he could have committed it: Philadelphia. This notoriously unforgiving populace, whose football fans once famously booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs, is also fiercely proud of its cheesesteak. And Scott Walker made the mistake of messing with their cheesesteak.

Among the many cheesesteak purveyors, there are none more famous than Pat’s and Geno’s, bitter rivals which also happen to be across the intersection from each other. Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, visited both. So far so good. But then disaster struck. As described by one Tweeter, “Scott Walker cut in line at Geno’s to order a cheesesteak with American cheese and no onions. He’s not getting out of Philly alive.” Another concluded, “If Scott Walker is dumb enough to cut a steak line in South Philly, do you really want him running the country?”

Walker compounded his error by then visiting Pat’s, where he not only didn’t finish his sandwich, but left his trash on the table. But he was not the only candidate to mess up in Philly. When John Kerry was running against George W. Bush, Kerry botched his order at Pat’s by asking for Swiss cheese (also cementing his effete reputation). As the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, “The Massachusetts Democrat may as well have asked for cave-aged Appenzeller.” In contrast, Bush asked for “Whiz wit” like a local (Cheese Whiz with onions).

British Prime Minister David Cameron outdid Kerry by eating his hot dog improperly during his spring, 2015 re-election campaign. As noted by one Tweeter, “What kind of monster eats a hot dog with a knife and fork?” Well, the Queen did, in a 1939 visit to America with then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt; but to be fair, she hadn’t seen one before.

Perhaps the most successful at the gastronomical aspect of the campaign was Bill Clinton, who wouldn’t hesitate to ask for a Big Mac and fries, and would stop in at places like Abe’s Coney Island in Ypsilanti because that’s what he wanted, not to get votes. Today, Clinton is reportedly a vegan.

That would not go over well at the Iowa State Fair, which features deep fried cherry pie and more than 70 items served on a stick. A visit here is an entry-level test for the candidates at the early Iowa caucuses. President Barack Obama once elicited blank stares when, trying to relate to farmers, asked “Have you seen the price of arugula at Whole Foods?” Probably neither can be found in Iowa. Mitt Romney fared no better when he flipped a pork chop onto the ground then put it back on the grill, and went on to famously declare, “Corporations are people, my friend. Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. So, where do you think it goes?”

Shoved down their throats by politicians is my best answer to that one. Here’s to eating right, and staying healthy, during the long campaign season.

Iowa State Fair Grilled Pork Chops


1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp fresh-ground pepper

1/2 tsp light-brown sugar

1 TBS olive oil

4 bone-in center-cut pork loin chops


Heat grill to medium-high. Stir together the salt, mustard, chili powder, pepper, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Trim about 1 inch of the meat along the rib bone to create a handle. Brush the pork chops with the olive oil and pat 1 1/2 teaspoons of the dry mixture onto each. Grill, turning once, until cooked through — 9 to 12 minutes.
(Two minutes before removing, brush with your favorite barbecue sauce, if desired.) Serve immediately.

Something about pork, and politics, just seems to go together naturally.