WASHINGTON – The tweets and emails started immediately after Donald Trump’s victory Tuesday night:
“You’ve got a promise to keep, bub.”
“Get ready to eat it.”
To them, I say: Con gusto.
Seven months ago I said I would eat an entire column, newsprint and ink, if Trump won the nomination, calculating that Republican voters were better than Trump. The Republican voters let me down: Though a majority didn’t support him, enough did, and no viable alternative arose.
But you, the reader, have revived my faith in America. I put out a call for recipes and you responded, via Twitter, Facebook, email and the comments section. Through the magic of crowdsourcing, I have discovered that eating newspaper can be downright mouth-watering. This is going to be huge! We are going to build a big, beautiful meal – and Mexico is going to pay for it.
On Thursday, May 12, after readers have voted for their favorite newspaper cuisine, acclaimed chef Victor Albisu of Washington’s Del Campo restaurant will select and prepare a wide variety of newsprint-based dishes. Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post’s James Beard Award-winning food critic, will be on hand to taste and judge the dishes, and I will eat them – streamed live on the Post’s Facebook page.
I’ve dispensed with the unhelpful suggestions from readers that I consume my column with hemlock, cyanide or excrement. And though I appreciate all the Hannibal Lecter references, I won’t be eating the column with fava beans and a nice Chianti, nor will I be eating it with crow (it’s out of season), although Robert Howland, a psychiatry professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, suggested a crow-free crow pie that sounds tasty.
Many readers proposed ways to get the paper down painlessly: Blended in smoothies. Folded into bearnaise, marinara or jerk sauce. Wrapped in bacon. Topped with Sriracha, mustard or ketchup. Or shredded and mixed with Parmesan cheese.
Reader “Mhitchons” posited that “newsprint dissolves well in scotch, bourbon, whiskey or any other potent alcohol.” Mary Ann Liebert suggested “mustard or vodka. Maybe both.”
“NotDeadYet” suggested jalapeno-infused tequila blanco, and Nathan A. Wallace thought a Grand Marnier, flambe style. But the many suggestions that I pair the meal with Trump wine give me indigestion.
A large number of readers said eating the newspaper in any form but raw would be cheating. “Man up! No sneaky dodging!” argued Jeffrey Drummond.
I disagree. There’s no reason why a newspaper shouldn’t go down easily. In addition to Albisu’s original suggestion – newspaper chilaquiles in tomatillo-jalapeno sauce, crispy newspaper dumplings, saffron rice and newspaper-smoked lamb, newspaper-lined tacos, ground newspaper falafel, newspaper Wagyu steak, candied-newspaper waffles and newspaper-stuffed churros – there are many other promising dishes to consider for this feast.
Joe Yonan, the Post’s food editor, suggests a “cold minty pea-and-newspaper soup” with Greek yogurt, feta and chives.
Bonnie Benwick, the deputy food editor, proposes “op-ed spring rolls” with dipping sauce.
John Bussey, my old editor at the Wall Street Journal, suggests a “fresh vegetable soup, generously seasoned with garlic and herbs and reduced on a low flame for one news cycle.”
Sara Polon, otherwise known as “Soupergirl,” a Washington soupmaker, submits an “Indian-style mulligatawny with toasted newspaper.”
Probably the most creative recipe came from Shava Nerad via Twitter – ersatzbrot, a bread made with sawdust fed to German soldiers in World War I.
Several readers – “JC,” “CalithDem” and Roy Wakefield among them – went with the British classic of fish and chips, while many others – including Emmanuel Touhey, Becky Timmons and Dan Grosz – thought meatloaf would be the right choice.
Linda Garceau sent me a recipe, in French, for fish cooked in newspaper, but it appears the removal instructions – “degager le papier” – disqualify the dish. And Douglas Peterson took great care in emailing a highly detailed recipe for Trump steaks (18 column inches Washington Post shredded in 3-inch strips, 1 / 2-inch wide).
Nearly every world cuisine was represented: German beef and newspaper cabbage rolls (Mark Gibson), a Louisville newspaper Hot Brown (Mark Linton), blueberry newspaper pancakes (David Umansky), newspaper matzo brei (Adam Wizon), newspaper lasagna (Andrea Stone), newspaper spanakopita (William Hamby) and Trumpkin pie with newspaper and yams (“MArlington Thomas”).
Among the most popular comments was from “ACounter,” who suggested soaking the newspaper in water first “to get as many of the chemicals out as possible. And before you eat the soaked paper, don’t forget to soak yourself – in your favorite alcoholic beverage.”
Unnecessary. These newsprint dishes will be delectable. But another six months of Trump? That will require a stiff drink.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter @Milbank.