Scene writer and locally acknowledged food connoisseur Matt Pulle recently asked each of the two main presidential candidates about his favorite Nashville dining establishment. While we had hoped to include this in last week's annual Best of Nashville issue, the twin tasks of rendering George W. Bush's answers intelligible and editing John Kerry's for space proved more difficult that we had first thought. Late Edition sweeps up the crumbs.
Scene: Mr. President, we know you've visited Nashville something like 492 times in order to keep Tennessee a red state. On a lighter note, we'd like to ask what are some of your favorite restaurants in Nashville.
Bush:There's this little hole in the wall joint called the Cowboy Café in Crawford, Texas. Me and Karl used to go there, back, you know, before I found Jesus, my savior, and, let me tell you, Karl and I used to really throw 'em down. That means, you know, we used to drink lots of beer.
Scene: Actually Mr. President, I meant favorite restaurants in Nashville.
Bush:That's easy. (Long, awkward pause.) Logan's Roadhouse. I want my meat tough, unlike John Kerry. I like the peanuts they give you too. And you can throw them on the floor when you're done. That's cool.
Scene: That's not the most adventurous choice, Mr. President. Can you come up with any local restaurants?
Bush:You may not like where I eat. But you'll always know where I stand.
Scene: Mr. President, they have Logan's Roadhouses in many, many cities.
Bush:Are you sending mixed messages? Matt, let me tell you something. I talked to the waitresses at Logan's. I talked to the manager when I was eating at that restaurant and holding a fork with my napkin on my lap. And they're not going to follow you if you say that Logan's is just a great diversion. Being a president is hard work. It means being firm.
Scene: I don't know what you're talking about. I can't believe you're president.
Bush:(Long pause.) Let me tell you something, Matt. Actually, I'm going to call you Muppet. That's your nickname. Muppet.
Scene: I don't really want a nickname.
Bush:Whatever you say, Muppet.
Muppet: Mr. President, you're so personable. Unlike that John Kerry.
Bush:He's a real flip-flopper, Muppet. And I don't think I'm penetrable. I'm resolve.
Muppet: OK, back to restaurants in Nashville. Have you ever dined at the Istanbul Café on Nolensville Road? Easily the best kabobs in town.
Bush:The Turks are a fine, Muslim people. They pray to Allah, not Jesus. They bob their heads up and down. Being a president means that I pray. But I don't bob my head up and down. That's kind of weird. Ha.
Muppet: Thanks for clarifying that. Do you like ethnic food?
Bush:You mean, like PF Chang's? Amerigo? I love the Olive Garden on Bell Road where good sometimes is always the food. I like those Eye-talians too. They were a part of the coalition of the willing. I think they donated a few cans of spaghetti sauce to our troops.
Muppet: That was a hefty contribution.
Bush:Are you with us or against us, Muppet?
Muppet: Any final words, Mr. President?
Bush:I eat at Logan's. I'm firm and certain and resolve that I eat at Logan's. That's what a president does. A president is resolve. (Long pause.) I admire John Kerry. He's a great dad. My daughters say they wish he was their father. But you can't be president or a dad, if one minute you're eating at the French Quarter Café and the next minute you're having wine and cheese at Sunset Grill for political reasons. That's a great diversion. And it's a mexed missage and it's no way to win the war on terror.
Scene: Senator Kerry, thanks for talking to us about Nashville. I know that when you had illusions of winning Tennessee you visited us a few times. Did you get a feel for the place? What was your favorite restaurant?
Kerry:The French Quarter Café. Any culinary establishment that pays homage to the glorious traditions of the French is one that I prefer. Then again, I enjoyed the food court at the Farmer's Marketso many wonderful cultures representedcultures that, had I been President, I would have consulted with in a humble fashion before I decided to take action on Iraq. Not that I'm saying I would have chosen to fight a costly war; I would have possibly, if the conditions were such, let the weapons inspections proceed in a proper manner. Then again, on the other hand
Scene: OK, let's stop you there. So you want to select the Farmer's Market Food Court? I think most people would prefer that you choose the French Quarter.
Kerry:I actually voted for the French Quarter before I voted against it.
Scene: Sorry, we kind of baited you there. You do know that the French Quarter is a Cajun restaurant right?
Kerry:The Cajuns are fine, upstanding people.
Scene: OK, you're pandering again. What restaurant has the best wine and cheese?
Kerry:Easily the Melting Pot. In fact, if it's not too late, I would like to make that my selection as Nashville's finest eating establishment.
Scene: Only one place can be your favorite. That's what "favorite" means.
Kerry:Teresa and I particularly enjoy the wine and cheese at the Sunset Grill as well, where we have scintillating conversations with our friends among the Music Row Democrats and members of the Vanderbilt English Department.
Scene: You're not doing a very good job of appealing to the everyday Nashvillian.
Kerry:I lament the closing of the Blue Moon Café.
Scene: OK, that strikes a more populist tone.
Kerry:I remember after a stop here in Nashville in late August, I went windsurfing on the Cumberland. Afterward, I dined at the Blue Moon and feasted on a plate of grilled salmon while sipping on the house Merlot.
Scene: Are you for real?
Kerry:The Blue Moon is my favorite restaurant in Nashville. As I was looking at purchasing a boat at the adjacent Marina, I came under enemy fire.
Scene: Senator, there is no war going on along the banks of the Cumberland.
Kerry:I won three purple hearts in Vietnam.
Scene: Speaking of which, there are many great Vietnamese Restaurants along Charlotte Pike in the West Meade area. Have you had a chance to drop by any of them, or does it bring back painful memories?
Kerry:I answered the call to serve my country in Vietnam when I was a young man.
Scene: Yeah, we know. That wasn't my question
Kerry:I love the hot dogs at the Nashville Coliseum. The Tennessee Oilers play there.
Scene: The Titans.
Kerry:They are my favorite football team. No, wait, the Packers
Scene: Thank you.