The way to America’s heart is through its stomach. At least, that seems to be the case on the campaign trail, where food crops up in almost every conversation. Whether McCain’s camp dismissing Obama as an “arugula eater,”
or Sarah Palin exalting her own love for fresh moose
, everything the candidates eat is used as shorthand to indicate the sorts of people they are—whether accurately or not.
As a result, life on the campaign trail is one of state fairs and local fare, clam chowdah
up north and fried chicken down south. There’s no easier way to appear sympathetic to local culture than to take a big, juicy bite, in a very literal sense. And no matter how small an American town, it’s likely to have a prized specialty that, they’ll claim, you just can’t get anywhere else. Everyone eats—and almost everyone is ready to defend the way they eat. And so, as The New York Times noted earlier in this campaign
, candidates chomp their way around the country: a cheesesteak in Philly, a tamale in Arizona, and so on across the States.
What’s next on the Obama-McCain eat-off—sorry, election? According to the Village Voice
and New York Examiner
, prospective First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on the Food Network on September 20th with Paula Deen: the first lady of buttery biscuits, bacon-wrapped fried mac-and-cheese
, and all manner of heart-stopping Southern specialties. Here, Michelle will learn to make fried shrimp and Creole French fries, while sharing her own family’s favorites (including, apparently, Barack’s speciality—one “mean chili”).
Are any voters swayed by frying potatoes and tales from the Obama family table? Perhaps not. But for a woman trying to cultivate an all-American image, there’s nowhere better to start than with Paula Deen's not-quite-proverbial fried apple pie.