KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Presidential Politicking Hits Bay Area Eateries
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Monday, January 21, 2008
Presidential Politicking Hits Bay Area Eateries

Seeing that the February 5th primary in California will actually matter for the first time in way too many election cycles, presidential candidates and their supporters are out stumping at key Bay Area cornerstones. Or, should I say that they're actually paying attention to us, the Left Coasties, because maybe JUST MAYBE our votes are finally going to count for something? (For instance, Chelsea returns to her alma mater, but pisses people off by making herself available only to lucky Greeks. In the hopes of being granted Chelsea face-time, some of her disappointed fans even missed out on Lake Tahoe ski trips -- oh noes!)

As a result of our becoming the girl who is suddenly hot when she takes off her glasses and lets her hair hang down, California's eating establishments have now become ripe targets for candidate glad-handing. The trite salt-of-the-earth diner has long been the choice site for retail politicking in down-home places like Iowa and New Hampshire, but it's a bit weird to think of our favorite hot spots being used for the same purpose.

For instance, just this past week, Bill Clinton was in Oakland and made national "news" because of a pointed exchange he had with ABC7's Mark Matthews. The locale? None other than Everett & Jones barbeque, where he also held a roundtable discussion, plumping up his wife's campaign while he plumped up his waistline with E&J's succulent ribs. How true to both his SNL persona and his storied connections with the African-American community for him to choose that particular location for a photo-op.

Matier and Ross also reminded us this week about the California Dem vote being split between the beer-drinkers and the wine and cheese crowd. As they report it, Hillary has the ear of the blue-collar beer drinkers (mostly downstate, they note), while Obama wraps up the liberal wine-and-cheesers.

This got me thinking, does this mean Barack Obama needs to go to The French Laundry to answer Clinton in kind? Or better yet, given his now-infamous 2007 arugula remark in Iowa, he could set up camp at the Ferry Building -- where everyone will always know the price of arugula.

But hey, what does all this mean for Bay Area beer-drinkers? See, we're a rarified lot up here, where many of us treat our beer like wine. This the crowd that goes to Suppenk├╝che, Toranado, and Magnolia, tracking down hard-to-find Belgians, doppelbocks, and specialized microbrews. Clinton's beer is not that kind of beer. No, Clinton beer is mass-produced, domestic (preferably light) beer. And you know? There's not a whole lot of that in the Bay Area -- home of the micro/local everything.

So, if Hillary's going to find her constituency at a Bay Area noshery or watering hole, she's going to have to look beyond the beer-swillers.

She could go where Bill goes, but I don't see her pushing up her suit sleeves to chow down at Everett & Jones without him; it seems slightly outside of her comfort zone. No, I really see her at A16. Yes, I see Hillary in the Marina, I see her at a place that's a focal point for that not-too-young, not-too-edgy monied crowd. It's a popular place, it's a respected place, and it doesn't take chances.

Naturally, my mind started meandering around the city, trying to match candidate with eatery.

Barack would go to Delfina, because he'd feel the need to answer Hillary's Italian in kind, but in an edgier, hipper, younger neighborhood. Think about it: A16 focusses on a single Italian region, but Delfina is known to incorporate cuisines from diverse Italian regions and even adds their own unique California touch to each dish. And as we all know, Obama is the candidate who transcends culinary divides. (But is he Italian enough?) Plus, on his way out of town, he'd answer Bill's barbeque photo-op with a Lower Haight stop at Memphis Minnie's.

John Edwards: The Boulevard Cafe in suburban Daly City. It's always busy, it serves good, honest (if sometimes uninspired) food, and a lot of people forget it's even an option.

Rudy Giuliani: Let's give him Miller's East Coast West Delicatessen because it's the closest he'll ever get to New York on the Left Coast.

John McCain: He's a military guy and would be at home at Presidio Social Club and Top of the Mark. Right? I mean, he fought in WWII, didn't he? Failing that, I somehow think his platform might also gravitate towards Maverick.

Mitt Romney: With the hair, the suit, the smile, and the cloned kids, he's totally Cheesecake Factory material. And with such a large menu, no matter how many times he changes his mind, they'll be certain to have something for him.

Mike Huckabee: Before his salad eating days, I could see the immigrant-friendly guv hanging out at El Farolito, but since the weight-loss, he's probably looking around for healthier fare. Greens and Millennium are probably way too experimental and liberal for him, so he'd probably be holding court with a Baja Fresh veggie burrito in a strip mall somewhere.

Fred Thompson: I can't quite put my finger on it, but something about him screams somnambulistic businessmen and huge sides of beef, so I'll put him in Alfred's Steakhouse and The House of Prime Rib. He's the real sleeper candidate.

Ron Paul: As long as he puts himself as far away from City Hall as possible, he'll be good. I see Ron Paul setting up a grill and cooler in Golden Gate Park and yelling at all the kids to stay off his lawn.

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Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Ha ha! I got nothin' to add.
Except: (But is he Italian enough?)
Ha ha ha!

1/21/2008 3:32 PM

Anonymous Carrie K said...

That's one way of deciding who to vote for.....by restaurant choice. Clever!

1/21/2008 3:55 PM

Blogger wendygee said...

This NYTimes article discusses the candidates eating habits. I thought this was the scariest candidate food fact:
"Mitt Romney is so vigilant about nutrition that he eats the same thing every day: his wife's granola for breakfast, a chicken or turkey sandwich for lunch, and pasta, fish or chicken for dinner."
How will he ever deal with international relations?

1/21/2008 6:04 PM

Blogger Tana Butler said...

I laughed and laughed at Cheesecake Factory. But apparently Mitt is too food-phobic to enjoy the Bay Area's diversity.

Speaking of Mitt Romney's "vigilance"...it's not vigilance about nutrition, it bespeaks a control freak. Show me the greens, Mitt, show me the organics. (Rebuttal: "I can't afford organics"..."It's cheaper than chemo!")

Read this:

White House Chef Confirms Bush Is Crackers

Excerpt: "What did he eat? Almost exclusively BLTs, grilled-cheese sandwiches made with Kraft singles and white bread, peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches, and hamburgers. Whichever item Scheib had at the ready, the president would reject."

Infantile food issues are the sign of a crippled mind. Not that I want Bourdain for president, but he'd be a helluva lot better than the current Occupant of the Very Very White House.

Cheers, Stephanie. Great piece: amusing and bold.

1/21/2008 9:03 PM

Blogger Michael Procopio said...

Correction: John McCain served valiantly alongside Pershing in the Spanish-American War.

1/22/2008 9:23 AM

Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

No, Michael -- we're both wrong! It was the Revolutionary War but there's a whisper campaign that he was seen wearing a red coat!

My lord, I never knew Mitt was so picky but a guy who straps his dog in a cage to the roof of his car then drives across the country is clearly not in his right mind.

1/22/2008 12:10 PM

Anonymous Kathy Ramsey said...

Not long ago (maybe 2 months ago) while hanging around the Mission on a Sunday afternoon, we noticed a ton of police presence. Found out later that Hillary Clinton was eating at Foreign Cinema that night.

1/28/2008 7:08 AM

Anonymous cerebellumblues said...

Brilliant! Except, I see Mike Huckabee sneaking bites as he piously serves up grub at Glide and lambastes eaters for becoming wayward souls.

1/31/2008 2:17 PM

Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

HAH! Too, true. Too, sadly, true.

2/01/2008 2:41 AM


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