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Delegation divided on bagels

September 20, 2018

WASHINGTON — New York gubernatorial wannabe Cynthia Nixon set off smoke alarms when reporters witnessed her bagel order: Lox, cream cheese, red onion, capers, tomato — all on a cinnamon raisin bagel!

The cries of blasphemy and apostasy resounded across the New York metropolitan area and upstate, and into Connecticut and other jurisdictions as well. How could she? Is this the person we want as governor?

It is unlikely Nixon’s bagel choice contributed significantly to her resounding loss in the N.Y. primary Sept. 13 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But that didn’t stop critics and connoisseurs from picking through the crumbs, searching for deeper meaning in the bagel orders of political notables.

Washington Post writer Alexandra Petri went so far as to author a column with the headline: “What your bagel order says about your fitness to govern.”

So this begs the question, what are the bagel preferences of the Connecticut congressional delegation and what does it say about them?

First, my own bagel bona fides: I grew up on Manhattan’s West Side (summers in Westport), walking distance from bagel landmarks Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s. And I’ve been covering political figures in Washington for, oh, 31 years now.

OK, so with that in mind, herewith, exclusive to Hearst Connecticut Media, the bagel choices of your elected officials:

Rep. Elizabeth Esty: “I’ve been a fan of Bagelicious (in Cheshire) for years — it was part of the Esty family weekend ritual with the kids before hockey practice or church. My bagel tastes are pretty classic: Poppyseed toasted with cream cheese, Lox, and a slice of tomato. Traditional for a reason — because it’s delicious!”

Pretty impressive, Madam Congresswoman! Tomato is a little on the bubble, but otherwise your bagel orthodoxy is in the zone.

Sen. Chris Murphy: Also a Cheshire resident, he puts in another plug for Bagelicious. For Murphy, it’s the cheddar bagel (bagel coated with cheddar flecks), toasted, with butter. Well, not a classic. Actually, pretty minimalist except for the cheddar. Murphy is kind of no-frills guy, apart from his choice in socks. Petri had this to say about the Asiago bagel, as close as she got to cheddar: “You are fit to govern, but you are too busy.” Sounds about right.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro: Her office sent back a printout of my email query with her own handwritten notations. Sesame, check; toasted, check; Nova, check; capers, check: red onions, check. Only potential raised eyebrow? Butter substitute (think Earth Balance soy) because “I’m lactose intolerant,” with “intolerant” underlined. OK, so no snarky commentary on that one!

Rep. Jim Himes: “My favorite is toasted everything bagel with what we Presbyterians call a schmear of lox spread.” Wow, impressive. Presbyterian? Heck, he could get life-credit in the Rabbinate for that order. Sure, you could pick a fight over lox spread. True orthodoxy would dictate cream cheese or (even better) chive cheese, with Nova (lox) on top in delectable orange slices. But some nits really are not worth picking.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal: Counterintuitive that the delegation’s lone Jewish member would be its lone bagel ascetic. Nothing toasted, or coated or piled to the sky for Connecticut’s Brooklyn-born senior senator. His favorite? A plain bagel. Yes, plain. No butter, not even a smidge of cream cheese. Just plain.

A former state attorney general and current Senate Judiciary Committee member, steeped in the law, precedent and Supreme Court confirmations, Blumenthal is familiar with all manner of tests — the rational-basis test, the undue-burden test, strict-scrutiny test, to name a few.

So no surprise that Blumenthal has his own bagel test. “The real test of a bagel’s quality is whether or not it tastes good plain.” Now you know!

dan@hearstdc.com

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