Here’s some food for thought. Or, rather, here are some thoughts for food.
Six months ago, I made a reckless vow. With Donald Trump dominating in the polls, I said I’d eat a column – 18 column inches of toxic newsprint, wood-pulp, ink and all – if he won the Republican presidential nomination.
My rationale: “Americans are better than Trump,” and Republican primary voters wouldn’t nominate “a candidate who expresses the bigotry and misogyny that Trump has.”
This prediction still looks viable. More than 60 percent of Republican primary voters have rejected Trump so far, and there’s a decent chance Republicans can at least force the nationalist demagogue into a contested convention. They know his racism and xenophobia would be a recipe for disaster.
But, to be safe, I am in search of other recipes. With the help of one of the capital’s great chefs – and seeking the guidance of you, the reader – I am taking the prudent step of preparing to eat my words in case Trump secures the nomination.
Perhaps I should shred the column over newspaper-ink risotto, in a bid to Make America Grate Again? Peter Sagal, the host of NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” suggests I chop the newsprint into “a nice poutine,” the cheesy dish popularized when George W. Bush took a call from pranksters posing as Canadian Prime Minister Poutine. Washington celebrity chef Jose Andres kindly printed the column in edible ink onto edible paper for me. But that felt like cheating.
So I called my friend Katherine Miller, head of the food-advocacy group Chef Action Network, who put me in touch with a chef who would help me eat my words in style: Chef Victor Albisu of Washington’s Del Campo restaurant, an acclaimed Latin steakhouse. I did not discuss politics with Chef Victor, but I doubt he’s a yuuuuuge Trump fan, based on his recipes. And I sensed he was being arch when he told me: “If you’re eating newspaper, man, the world opens up to you.”
Here are Albisu’s proposed recipes – all from parts of the globe that have figured prominently in Trump’s campaign:
Chilaquiles (Mexico): “We cut and fry tortillas until crispy, then saute with similarly cut newspaper article and toss in a tomatillo-jalapeno sauce and cover with melted Chihuahua cheese, shredded lettuce, grilled avocado and Mexican crema.”
Crispy Dumplings (China): “The newspaper article is ground with pork, spices and lemongrass and seasoned to make filling. On the inside of the dumpling wrapper we lightly brush hoisin sauce. More newspaper pieces are cut and rolled inside. We fill the dumpling with thinly shaved cabbage, spicy chiles and bean sprouts. The dumplings are fried and topped with scallions.”
Saffron Rice and Smoked Lamb (Iran): “We brine and then newspaper-smoke the lamb before roasting. It is served over an Iranian Tadigh, a dish of crispy baked saffron rice. Steeping saffron to make a dye, we make cotton-candy strands to use as garnish representing Trump’s hair.”
Newspaper-lined Tacos (Mexico): “We line the inside of the tortilla with newspaper. The tortillas are then filled with crispy beef ‘tripas.’ We garnish the taco traditionally with the colors of the Mexican flag: white onion, cilantro and a salsa taquera that we make with grilled tomato, grilled tomatillo, grilled newspaper, onion and cilantro.”
Ground Newspaper Falafel (Syria): “The newspaper article is ground and mixed with chickpeas and parsley into falafel and then deep-fried. Strips of newspaper line the pita and the falafels are placed inside, garnished with yogurt, parsley and onions.
Well-Done Steak (America): “We marinate a Wagyu bavette in yogurt, garlic and cumin, then grill it to Trump’s preferred temperature: well done. Once removed from the grill we give it a light smoke using dried herbs and shredded newspaper. We then prepare a chimichurri sauce using bits of burnt newspaper, chopped burnt onion, parsley, cilantro, red peppers and red wine vinegar.”
For dessert, Chef Victor proposes waffles (“we prepare the batter with bits of shredded newspaper, then top with maple syrup and candied newspaper”) and crispy-fried churros (“stuffed with newspapers that have been chopped and folded into chocolate and dulce de leche, served in a rolled-newspaper cone”).
These are mouth-watering possibilities. But the idea of eating my Trump column should be a crowd-sourced exercise. Please send your thoughts on the above, and your own recipes, to me via Facebook or Twitter. In the event of a Trump victory, the most promising dishes will be featured in a cook-off – the subject of a future column and accompanying video – and consumed by me, con gusto.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.