Houston Mayoral Candidates Talk Food Trucks, Their Go-To Lunch Spots and Cooking at Home
In one of the great election movies of our time, Wag the Dog, CIA agent Mr. Young gives some helpful advice about food: "There are two things I know to be true. There's no difference between good flan and bad flan, and there is no war."
Photo by IowaPolitics.com No, no, don't worry. Rick Perry isn't running for mayor. He obviously appreciates good food, though.
Okay, maybe it was more about war than food. And there's definitely such a thing as inferior flan. Whatever. We all know what's important around here, and it's not global warming or war or the economy. It's food!
Clearly I'm joking. Here at Eating Our Words, we understand that not everything is about food. We just kind of wish it was. Talking about food all the time would make things less complicated, and everyone would be fat and happy.
Tuesday, November 5 is election day, and in Houston, the most exciting race is the mayoral battle. While we've been following the debates closely to learn about the candidates' platforms, we haven't heard much talk about the Houston dining scene. So we called the mayoral candidates to discuss their thoughts and feelings about local food.
We were able to get in touch with three of the nine candidates by our deadline, but these three candidates represent the Democratic Party (incumbent Annise Parker), the Republican Party (Eric Dick) and the Green Party (Don Cook). They provide a great political cross-section, and their thoughts on food happen to differ almost as much as their politics.
Note: Before you vote, please take a moment to consider each candidate's goals for the city, and not just his or her favorite restaurant. Though you are more than welcome to consider that as well.
Don Cook, Green Party
Photo from Don Cook Facebook Don Cook has been a vegetarian since 2004.
Where do you go for a nice meal out, like a date night or a birthday dinner, and why?
Radical Eats. I know (owner) Staci Davis from when we were both on the board of a radio station. She does some unique things with vegan foods.
If you have to grab a quick lunch, what's your go-to spot, and why?
I'm afraid I usually don't eat lunch. I usually go with whatever other people I'm with want to do. At most places, you can manage to avoid meat if you look hard. When it comes to fast food, I actually will go to Burger King because they've had a veggie burger on their menu for years now.
What changes have you noticed in the Houston food scene in the past ten years?
Vegetarianism is becoming bigger. There are more vegetarian items on menus than there used to be ten years ago. And more vegan restaurants.
What would you like to see more of?
Well, I was mentioning Burger King...When the fast-food places have more vegetarian options, that would be a good thing.
But I do support, perhaps more importantly, that restaurants should pay their people a living wage and give them benefits.
What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding from outsiders about the Houston food scene?
I don't know about misunderstandings, but I know people are very attracted to meat. Once upon a time, being able to eat meat was associated with dining well. I have three reasons for being vegetarian: It's less cruel to animals, generally speaking it's healthier, and with so many people around the world going to bed hungry, eating meat is not sustainable.
What restaurant do you think is the most underrated in Houston?
Photo from VoicePlaces Radical Eats is Don Cook's favorite restaurant in Houston.
Do you have a favorite chef in Houston, and if so, who?
What do you cook for yourself when you're at home?
I've been a vegetarian since 2004, and from time to time I've aspired to veganism. I'm just not a gourmand. I'm the kind of person who eats to live, not lives to eat. I'm a lazy vegetarian. When you think of vegetarians, you think of people who are really into the zen of cooking and eating. I'm looking for real simplicity. At the grocery store, I get the veggie wieners and falafel and veggie meatballs -- stuff I can just heat up in the microwave
What are your feelings about food trucks, and if you're elected, do you anticipate making any changes to the current food truck ordinances?
I think that probably minimally there should be some protection regarding health. I think food trucks could have some health concerns, but no more than in restaurants. I also suspect there's some lobbying from some brick-and-mortar restaurants to keep the competition down, which is unfortunate.
2100 W. 34th St., Houston, TX