August 2007 Archives
You know that we’re already deep into election season when a candidate gets smeared for being conversant in an allegedly highfalutin foodstuff. Last autumn, on the eve of the midterm elections, I did an audio essay for NPR’s All Things Considered about the tired trope that right-wing operatives trot out about “latte-sipping, sushi-eating” liberals–as if having cultivated food and beverage preferences is an egregious act of sedition, or an exclusively left-wing trait.
Now, the scorched-earth Clinton campaign is taking it to Barack Obama for making a tin-eared reference to arugula before an audience of Iowa farmers. Newsweek reports that Hillary’s war room seized upon the opportunity to demonstrate that she is the candidate of the working man, while Obama, presumably, is the candidate of deviant mixed-greens fetishists who will rend the very fabric of America. My favorite sentence in the article is, “In a 10-minute interview with Newsweek, Clinton strategist Mark Penn mentioned arugula three times.”
It’s all over now; Hillary’s won. Arugula will be for Obama what the Swift Boat Vets were for Kerry. I guess you’d have to be an outright pinko to name your book The United States of Arugula.
For what it’s worth, the powerful Iowa Beef Industry Council lists a recipe for “Beef, Arugula and Spinach Lasagna” among the manifold uses of honest, home-grown Iowa beef.
A list inspired by the recent passings of Merv, Mrs. Astor, and the Scooter, none of whom I had the pleasure of meeting. Most of these figures were at the peak of their cultural relevance in the mid-20th century. The further we get away from that time, the more remarkable I find it that I ever got to talk to them.