The Diner’s Refrain

Caught Between the Moon and New York City

With former president Bill Clinton settled into his new headquarters on New York’s 125th Street, in central Harlem, the danger for the culinary crowd is that he may now take to hanging out at Sylvia’s, the famous soul-food restaurant barely three blocks away on Lenox Avenue near 126th.

For almost 40 years, the family-owned restaurant has been celebrated for its homestyle meatloaf, spare ribs, candied sweet potatoes, and other dishes long popular with black diners.  The possibility that Clinton—inveterate, self-professed know-it-all—might feel compelled to offer advice on the menu should strike terror into the hearts of the management (one or two of whom are actually Republicans) since, with Bubba’s involvement, Lord only knows what might happen.  Pretending to do research for his rumored TV cooking show, “The Recidivist Gourmet,” he may suggest that the collards be replaced by something of dubious origin called “Castle Grande Greens” and that the restaurant be compelled, perhaps under threat of an IRS audit, to buy all its chickens directly from his pal Don Tyson, who will begin turning up in New York unannounced, clamoring for free drinks at the bar.

This cannot be good.  As with popular television shows, a change in concept, even when heralded as “evolution,” generally brings with it declining ratings and ultimate disaster.  And in New...

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