After Terry Branstad takes the oath of office as governor of Iowa next week, both the governor’s residence and Iowa Capitol building will be thrown open to the public who will be sustained as they celebrate by, you guessed it, Maid-Rite sandwiches.
Beginning this week and continuing into mid-January, the incoming governors who won elections last November are taking office. Accessions to their state’s highest office are celebrated with various types of inaugural events, from balls to banquets.
Food served at an inauguration makes a statement about the state.
In Iowa, Maid-Rites are a popular “loose meat” sandwich made by a chain of Des Moines-based franchises. Last year, Taylor’s Maid-Rite in Marshalltown fell just a few votes short of getting the Iowa Assembly to give it a waiver from the state food code so it could continue using a vessel that health officials say is unsafe because it both cooks raw hamburger and stores cooked hamburger, which could lead to cross-contamination.
Inaugural planners have not said if the Maid-Rites they have ordered are coming from Taylor’s or a franchise closer to Des Moines.
Yesterday, when 72-year-old Jerry Brown again became governor of California, he had only to walk from inside the Capitol Building to the grounds outside to get a hotdog from an Orange County public employees’ union. The union had tents set up on the capitol grounds for serving the inaugural crowd.
When Brown first took the oath at age 36, he reportedly called ahead for an order of take-out Chinese food and then went to his unfurnished apartment and dined on the floor.
Gubernatorial races were hard fought last fall, and Republicans ended up on top, turning 11 states over from the Democrats to put them under Republican control. Democrats flipped five offices previously held by the Republicans. All totaled, there are now 29 Republican governors, 20 Democratic governors, and one Independent.
Also taking office yesterday was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. He rook over from the retiring Jim Doyle, the Democrat who vetoed a bill to make raw milk sales legal. Walker began his Inaugural Day with a prayer breakfast immediately before he was sworn in. Organizers collected food donations for the Hunger Task Force. All the donated milk had to be pasteurized.
Minnesota’s new Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton served breakfasts to needy school children at Wellstone Elementary School in St. Paul before taking the oath at noon at the Landmark Center.
In New York, it was not the food or the meals getting attention, but “First Girlfriend” Sandra Lee, host of “Semi-Homemade” on the Food Network. Lee played all the parts at the NY inaugural that would ordinarily go to a First Lady.
Lee even provided her own private security at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s event. He became the Empire State’s 56th chief executive, stepping into the office once held by his Father.
Also taking office on Monday was Nevada’s first Hispanic governor, Brian Sandoval, a Republican. An inauguration eve arts festival was getting more attention than the food, but Sandoval children moving into the governor’s mansion were said to enthusiastic about a nearby barbecue place they found.
No foodborne illnesses have yet been associated with any of these inaugural activities.