The ES Chat: John McCain

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As you know, the reporting team here at Endless Simmer makes it our business to inform you of the presidential candidates’ food-related platforms and pitfalls. With the general election campaign just around the corner, the ES Editorial Board is still deadlocked on whether to endorse a candidate. While you might suppose our liberal, big-bacon tendencies have us gunning for an Obama-Clinton dream ticket, GOP-er John McCain isn’t letting us take anything for granted.

Despite several decades in the limelight, the 71-year-old senator’s views on foodie issues are still mostly unknown. Luckily, after a pizza-fueled swing through Brooklyn last week, the presumptive Republican nominee agreed to sit down for one of Endless Simmer’s signature g-chat interviews.

Our (imaginary) chat with Johnny Mac touches on his pizza preferences, Top Chef, the Capitol Hill eating scene, and of course, the secrets to a great passion fruit mousse.

BS@ES: Thanks for agreeing to g with us, Senator. Let’s get right down to business. In a visit to Brooklyn earlier this week, you made one of the toughest decisions facing any candidate visiting New York: where to eat pizza. Walk us through your thinking.

MacIsBack2k8: That’s a fair question and I should admit to some indiscretions in my past. Last time I was in New York, my young staffers took me to one of these new-fangled fairy places in Williamsburg. Supposed to be great or something.

BS@ES: Fornino?

MacIsBack2k8: Some crap like that. It’s hard to believe this is what passes for a pie in this day and age. Decent cheese and sauce, but you should see what these people put on their pizza. Truffle oil! Lamb! Pistachios, for crying out loud. In my day, people didn’t call that pizza.

BS@ES: You might say the variety of toppings was a little too liberal?

MacIsBack2k8: Here’s some straight talk for you, BS. When I visited New York in the 70’s, you could get a decent slice on any street corner in all five boroughs. Today, half of this fancy pants garbage they’re serving in Manhattan and Brooklyn doesn’t deserve to wipe my ass. But if you want a true old school pizza – quality sauce, plenty of mozz., and a stand-up crust that makes the perfect fold – you’ll still find it out here in Bay Ridge – which, I might add, also happens to be the most Republican neighborhood in all of Brooklyn. Not a coincidence, I don’t think.

BS@ES: Are you suggesting Republicans make better pizza than Democrats?

MacIsBack2k8: Look, unlike some of my liberal opponents, I don’t make any grandiose claims. All I’m saying is, you go to Soho, the Upper West Side, Park Slope, you get a a pussy little pie with flimsy crust and all kinds of high-falutin toppings. You go to Bay Ridge, Staten Island, even Long Island, you get a slice. That’s what I’m talking about.

BS@ES: What about toppings then, sir? I notice you opted for ‘ronis.

MacIsBack2k8: Brb.

MacIsBack2k8: After consulting with my press secretary, I want to be sure to state on the record that the tastiest pizza in America happens to come from my home state, the great state of Arizona. Spinato’s in Phoenix is a personal fav.

BS@ES: LOL – tasty pizza in Arizona – that’s a good one, Senator. But let’s be serious. I’m headed to D.C. later this month. Any power lunch spots you recommend?


MacIsBack2k8: Well as you know, BS, I’ve spent the better part of my career fighting against the interests of big money in Washington, so I don’t get invited to many power lunches.

BS@ES: So we shouldn’t look for you at the Palm or Cafe Milano?

MacIsBack2k8: Young man, I wouldn’t know a power lunch if it bit me in the behind.

BS@ES: So what are your fav eats? This Esquire article makes you sound like the anti-foodie. Red bull? Potato chips? Cold egg rolls? Sounds more Penn State frathouse than Pennsylvania Avenue.

MacIsBack2k8: Mmm, cold egg rolls. They really get a bad wrap. But let me give you some inside business. When it’s 3 a.m. in the White House and there’s a crisis, I can guarantee you there is only one phone call I’m making: and it’s to a little place called Goody’s. Now these people know what they’re doing. You can order any time of night – and within 20 minutes you’ll have a hot styrofoam container of whatever type of food you’re craving. They’ve got subs, fried chicken, Chinese, Mexican, anything you want! I don’t know how they do it! Seriously, you heard it here first. I think there are two of them now. Next thing you know it’ll be bigger than Starbuns.

BS@ES: Let’s talk about your opponents. The press is reporting that Hillary Clinton is moving beyond foodies and making a play for the alkie vote. In Indiana this weekend, Hillary reportedly sat down with locals for a good old fashioned boilermaker – Crown Royal whiskey chased down with an Old Style. I’ve got a handle and a sixer standing by if you’d care to match her.

MacIsBack2k8: I find it unconscionable that Senator Clinton is gallivanting around drinking Canadian whiskey. Personally, I’ve never found anything wrong with Wild Turkey or Maker’s Mark. But then again, I don’t believe in socialized medicine either.

BS@ES: You’re dodging the question, Senator. Can you outdrink her or not?

MacIsBack2k8: You know, back in the day, Hill-dawg and I held a pretty epic vodka shot contest during a particularly productive congressional trip to Estonia. Let me say this: Hillary Clinton may be ready to wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists in Iraq, but when it comes to boozing, she backs down to no man.

BS@ES: How about Obama? Think he could hang with you and Hills in a drinking contest?

MacIsBack2k8: Would wine coolers be allowed? j/k

BS@ES: Ouch! So back to food. Your campaign website includes McCain Family Recipes, which we personally think the FEC should hereby require of all candidates. But I’m having a bit of a dilemma. Your wife’s recipe for passion fruit mousse calls for kiwi – which just seems like it would make the dish a little too seedy. Does this really work? Might it be better to sub in star fruit or kumquats? Thoughts?

MacIsBack2k8: I can’t comment on that at this point.

MacIsBack2k8’s new status message: Cindy – wtf is a kumquat?

MacIsBack2k8: But I can say this. I happen to make the best dry rub rack of ribs this side of the Potomac, and if Hillary or Obama wants to sign up for a grill-off, consider it on.

BS@ES: I’d like to ask you about that, actually. Your rib rub recipe calls for salt, pepper, lemon juice, and garlic powder. Any reason why you can’t chop up fresh garlic? Isn’t the powdered stuff, you know, cheating?

MacIsBack2k8: You’re lucky to be behind that computer screen right now, young man.

BS@ES: How about TV? Are you watching Top Chef Chicago?

MacIsBack2k8: Oh, no. I’m not a fan of deep-dish. Too much mumbo-jumbo going on there.

BS@ES: No, I’m, sorry, I meant the TV show. It’s a reality contest to find the best undiscovered chef in America.

MacIsBack2k8: Oh yes. I’m for Heidi Montag.

BS@ES: Alright, then. I think we’ve covered everything we’re gonna get to here. Any last thoughts you’d like to share with the food-loving voters of America?

MacIsBack2k8: I don’t care if it takes 50 years, 100 years, or 1,000. I will go all the way to the gates of Hell if I have to, but we are going to win this thing.

BS@ES: The battle against Islamo-fascists?

MacIsBack2k8: Oh, no, just getting pumped for that grill-off. Tell Hill-dawg to quit boozing and get over here.

BS@ES: Thanks for your time, Senator.

Photo: AP

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