It’s July in Washington, and people are arguing about broccoli.
The vegetable melee began when President Barack Obama was asked by pint-sized kid journalists at a White House event exactly the kind of question that captivates Americans of a young age encountering the Leader of the Free World for the first time.
“What,” the hard-nosed student scribes inquired, according to a White House pool report, “is your favorite food?”
Obama responded “broccoli” – presumably influenced in part by the event’s theme, a meal celebrating the young winners of the second annual “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.”
Ah, the edible green cousin of cauliflower that launched a thousand tweets.
Within hours, “broccoli” was a trending term on Twitter for the city of Washington, D.C., as social media types debated the virtues of a politico’s professed adoration of brassica oleracea italica.
There were accusations of flip-flopping. (In response to a similar question last year, Obama indicated in an interview with Oprah that “pizza nights around the White House are pretty great.” Scholastic Inc. cited his love for "chili, french fries, and pork chops" during last year's campaign.)
There was the obvious dissonance with the Bush culinary legacy. (George H.W. Bush so despised the veggie that he famously banned the leafy green aboard Air Force One.)
And there were digs aplenty about Obama’s past kind words for arugula (the latest Whole Foods pricing of which was not available at press time.)
With the city slogging through another of its famous stifling summers, accompanied by infamous news vacuums -- it’s sure not to be the last petty argument of the week or maybe even of the day.
But for now, it’s at least Washington’s most literal food fight.
First published July 9 2013, 2:03 PM