Political pork and pugilistic pigs

By Bob Hicks

It’s the morning after the election, and Mr. Scatter has done his level best to tend to his civic duties by turning in his ballot (and Mrs. Scatter’s, since she’s off to London to visit the queen). As usual, he voted for a few losers (or as he prefers to put it, solid candidates who did not persuade the electorate of their worth) and even a few who emerged triumphant.

Baba Yaga riding a pig and fighting the infernal Crocodile. Russian lubok. Early 1700s/Wikimedia CommonsTrends and counter-trends popped up. Former NBA center Chris Dudley beat Alvin Alley and John Lim in the GOP race for the governorship nomination, and former governor John Kitzhaber waxed former secretary of state Bill Bradbury for the Demo nod. The lesson: being tall is a game-winner for Republicans, but not Democrats. Trend confirmed: Earl Blumenauer and Ron Wyden would have to be caught canoodling with drunken donkeys on reality TV to lose an election in Oregon.

Conjecture: Could be that Mayor Sam Adamsgraceless smackdown of commissioner Dan Saltzman the week before the election actually helped Saltzman get reelected without facing a runoff: How many people voted for Saltzman out of sympathy for the way he was treated or as a way to take a jab at Adams? Then again, with eight other candidates splitting the anti-incumbent vote, Saltzman probably would have won no matter what. Either way, keep an eye on those city council meetings. Looks like the gloves are off, and things could get a little testy.

But enough about politics. Speaking of fisticuffs (and speaking of canoodling with drunken donkeys), the real headline-grabber in this morning’s Oregonian was Leslie Cole‘s front-page report Iowa Pork Sets Off Ham-fisted Brawl, about a knock-down drag-out fight between local chef Eric Bechard (Thistle in McMinnville; ex-Alberta Street Oyster Bar in Portland) and Brady Lowe, an Atlanta-based foodie who tours the country arranging friendly food and wine smackdowns among the locals. Seems Lowe offended locovore Bechard by importing an Iowa pig for the cook-off. And the brawl took place in front of the Magic Garden, an Old Town strip club. That’s the sort of energy Oregon politics needs: passion worthy of a Wilbur Mills or a Huey Long! More on the fracas from Food Dude and Willamette Week.

Onlookers blamed that old troublemaker alcohol for much of the embarrassment (we’re talking about the food fight, not the election). And that brings up this morning’s other must-read story, by the New York Times’ Kim Severson (like Cole, one of Mr. Scatter’s favorite food writers), Creating a Cuisine out of Smoke. In it, Severson lights a match to one of the worst-kept secrets in the food biz: Lots of chefs like to smoke dope, and sometimes — shades of Alice B. Toklas! — the dishes they create bear a striking resemblance to the sort of flavors you crave when you get the munchies.

Portland got a bit of attention in the foodie doobie story, which quotes Stumptown Coffee founder Duane Sorenson reporting that the tip jars at Stumptown shops often get stuffed with marijuana buds. “It goes hand in hand with a cup of coffee,” Sorenson is quoted. “It’s called wake and bake. Grab a cup of Joe and get on with it.”

And — news alert — New York restaurant stars Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo of Frankies Spuntino and Prime Meats claim they create many of their popular dishes under the influence: as Severson reports, “… most of their projects … even a new restaurant planned for Portland, Ore. — were conceived with the creative help of marijuana.”

Mr. Scatter hasn’t been able to run down what that Portland restaurant project is or when it might open. But with grow-local warrior Bechard prowling the streets, he sincerely hopes Falcinelli and Castronovo aren’t planning on bringing in Iowa weed.


ILLUSTRATION: Baba Yaga riding a pig and fighting the infernal Crocodile. Russian lubok. Early 1700s/Wikimedia Commons