One of the more pleasant-sounding duties of the President of the United States is to travel—via Air Force One, not coach—to various countries around the world to meet with leaders, see the sights, engage with the people, and eat their food.
This week the president of the United States traveled to India. He met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arranged for 100,000 Indians to line the streets of Ahmedabad and cheer his motorcade. He visited the ashram where Gandhi once lived and tried to use a spinning wheel. He scattered rose petals at Raj Ghat, a memorial to Gandhi in New Delhi. He toured a historic tomb that happens to share a name with a casino he used to own. And he ate!
Or he was supposed to. This was a matter of great interest to the press since the majority religion of India is Hinduism, which prohibits the eating of beef. Modi himself is a vegetarian. The president is notoriously fond of well-done steak, and the news broke this week that he has such an aversion to vegetables that his personal doctor has resorted to smushing up cauliflower and burying it in his mashed potatoes, a trick also used by the parents of toddlers.
In preparation for the president’s visit to the ashram, Chef Suresh Khanna of the Fortune Landmark Hotel in Ahmedabad prepared a special “hi tea” menu that included cookies, roasted nuts, khaman dhokla (a spongy cake), and, most controversially, broccoli and corn samosas. These were intended to be an Americanized take on aloo matar, a popular filling made from peas and potatoes.
It did not go over well with Indian food Twitter, who considered it an affront to a beloved snack and dismissed it as “fried salad.” “If you change a samosa’s fillings, you are playing with feelings!” wrote one journalist. And then there was this:
But really, did Chef Khanna actually expect a man who needs to be tricked into eating cauliflower to eat something that overtly contained broccoli?
The president, it’s possibly needless to say, didn’t even taste one of the samosas, or anything else Chef Khanna had prepared. Some of the journalists traveling with the entourage did, however. (If you want to find a journalist, look for the free food.) “The #BroccoliSamosa is a miserable snack,” tweeted Deepal Trivedi of the Ahmedabad Mirror. “Not a single person finished a full one!”
But don’t worry, the president didn’t go hungry. Kaumudi Online, an Indian news site reported on Sunday that the ITC Maurya, the Delhi hotel where the president and first lady would be staying, had, in anticipation of their arrival, stocked its most luxurious suite with Diet Coke and cherry vanilla ice cream, two of his favorite foods.