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I remember the 1992 flap over Hillary Clinton's comments about baking cookies. I've never been a fan of hers, but I thought it was utterly ridiculous that people would care about that sort of thing then, and I consider it just as silly and irrelevant today.

According to the Diner's Journal in the New York Times, Cindy McCain won the Family Circle bake-off with a recipe that is nearly identical to one from Hershey's web site (and I compared the two - seriously, in the ingredient list, the only difference I could see was that the submission from McCain uses a slightly smaller amount of butterscotch chips).

In reality, it happens all the time that a family favorite that has been passed down turns out to be something that originated in America's corporate kitchens. While it would have likely been prudent for each campaign to review the submission before entry, the text on the Family Circle web site does say favorite recipe, rather than original recipe.

Truth be told, though, I don't really care about that part of it. No, I’m much more interested in knowing why, in 2008, it still appears to be an unspoken requirement for the First Lady to have a cookie recipe? Speaking as a serious culinary enthusiast who loves scrutinizing recipes to the point that she'll read cookbooks just for fun, why is that considered relevant in any way by anyone? Why does there seem to be this lingering expectation that the First Lady needs to be able to step into the shoes of some Fifties sitcom stereotype at a moment's notice? Why does the question keep coming up, and why do some seem to cling to a desire for some symbolic representation of the nation's mother or grandmother, when, in truth, both of these women work outside the home and, frankly, most of our mothers did, too?

My mother is a wonderful cook, and my parents did insist on family meal time. I have a personal cookbook I've assembled that mostly contains family recipes. I have some very strong associations with food and family. Despite that, I have no need for the First Lady to resemble my mother. I don't need for her to be able to cook - she certainly isn't going to make anything for me. Frankly, I'd be surprised if she made something for herself, and there's no slam intended in that: it's just that serving as a goodwill ambassador, she'll be out at various dinners, or hosting them for heads of state, and so on. If people want a cookie recipe from the White House, it'd make more sense for it to come from the resident chef, given that line of thinking.

No, I care more about the First Lady's ability not to stick her foot in her mouth, and less about her ability to stick a cookie in it.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
epicureanangel
Oct. 15th, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
Would have been funny if Bill Clinton had had to participate in a bake-off as First Husband.
pointedview
Oct. 15th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC)
Shoot, out of all of them, I'd be willing to put odds on him as being the one who liked food the best. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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