Food and politics go hand in hand. This week, there’s some heartwarming news. The winners of the Kids’ State Dinner were announced. The program, sponsored by Let’s Move!, the USDA and the Department of Education, is designed to promote cooking and healthy eating among young people across the nation. Children aged 8-12 were invited to work with an adult family member to create an original recipe that is “healthy, affordable, and delicious.” One winner from each state, territory and the District of Columbia was selected, and the winners and their adult partner will visit the White House on July 10th. California’s winner was 9 year old Aria Pelaez, who created a California Rainbow Taco with Mic-Kale Obama Slaw and Barack-amole. Congratulations!
On to the Senate. Jennifer Steinhauer (@jestei) has written a terrific piece for the New York Times about a tradition that dates back to the 1970s, when Senate Republicans began organizing lunches to discuss various items. The twist? Senators take turns hosting the Thursday lunches, providing foods that are representative of their home states. It’s a chance to brag, to show off a bit, to share, to educate…and to learn. The lunches “are imbued with history and competition.”
These days, the Thursday lunches are overseen by Senator Susan Collins of Maine (lobster and blueberry pie), who keeps the calendar and watches with amusement as colleagues try to outdo one another.
The first time she had okra was in Thursday’s group, when a Southern senator showed it off. There was another first: Rocky Mountain oysters, from cattle raised on the ranch of Senator Jim Risch of Idaho and served to Ms. Collins without explanation or warning.
A favorite is Senator Johnny Isakson, who hails from Georgia. Not only does he provide amazing BBQ (some of the items are delivered from Marietta), but he reaches across the aisle, inviting both Democrats and Republicans to attend. He also invites the Capitol Police, his staff, the Georgia congressional delegation and interested reporters.