(Host) Commentator Marialisa Calta says that lunch is still one of the highlights of many Town Meetings.
(Calta) Pundits who wax poetic about the democratic values inherent in Town Meeting are usually talking about the meeting itself. But for another look at democracy in action, I suggest they go to the Town Meeting Lunch. There, Vermont classics like Tuna Pea Wiggle cozy up to tofu-and-soba noodles. Brownies made from a mix find themselves on the same counter with homemade seven-layer cake. Nachos share plate time with baked beans.
And if politics makes strange bedfellows, it can also be said that it makes even stranger table mates. At Town Meeting Lunch, the rock-solid conservative might be heard agreeing with the tax-and-spend liberal about the superiority of Miracle Whip over Hellmans in the coleslaw. Members of the opposition may reach consensus on the issue of raisins in rice pudding. And nearly everyone – right, left or center – can find themselves in accord when it comes to pie.
Pie is a Town Meeting staple. In Calais, where I live, there is usually an array of the basics: apple, pumpkin and pecan – as if in Thanksgiving for Town Meeting Day. There may be a rogue pie – say, lemon meringue or coconut custard – but most lunch cooks stick to the basics.
Jane Grigson, a British food writer, wrote about Christmas: “…clever food is not appreciated. It makes the little ones cry and the old ones nervous.” The same can be said about Town Meeting.
At Town Meeting, we may find ourselves divided over issues large and small: the paving of roads, the Town Clerk’s photocopying budget or – this year – the deployment of our National Guard to Iraq. But the meeting brings us, at least physically, together. And a good hot lunch with pie for dessert is something we can all agree on.
This is Marialisa Calta in Calais.
Marialisa Calta is a freelance writer and cookbook author.