I remember being perplexed last year when Barack Obama was roundly mocked for wondering aloud about the pain Iowans were feeling over the price of arugula at Whole Foods. Not because it was tone deaf – it was. Or because there are no Whole Foods stores in the state of Iowa – there are none. But because arugula itself was somehow a stand in for out-of-touch snobbery. I always just thought it was an ingredient, albeit a tasty and underrated one.
Besides, extrapolating political symbolism from food rather than any real substance, well, just so depressingly mindless. The “freedom fries” debacle of the post 9/11 days is another example of what cynical politicians and their mouthpieces (a fraternity of which I am a member, I admit) say when they’re left home alone after the grown-ups go on vacation.
Unlike, say, petite vanilla scones or that old liberal staple, the cappuccino, the plant that is known by much of the English-speaking world as “rocket” hardly deserves to be pegged as the exclusive province of left-wing foodies.