Obama the...food critic?

Our unflappable prez is as practical a restaurant critic as he is foreign policy analyst: "What I'm looking for is food that tastes good, for a good price."

Amazing but true, a video has recently surfaced of Obama participating in a Chicago public tv show called "Check, Please," offering his review of Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop in Hyde Park. The video (second part on the next page) has the strangely charming aesthetic of unedited home-video. It's sort of like the cable access version of TPT's Almanac, except with Obama dominating a rather dull conversation about Chicago restaurants with a beefy firefigher and a punky gal with dreds, cat-eye glasses, and a chin piercing. It's all so...bizzare, though Obama is completely charming when talking about overdosing on the johnnycakes.

According to a Chicago Tribune piece, in 2001, Obama was recruited by a friend, the creator/proudcer of "Check, Please!" to be one of the rotating cast of three amateur critics to review a restaurant each week. They shot the episode in August 2001 (back when Obama was a state Senator)--and then it was shelved. Now the station is ressurecting the episode to debut it on Jan. 16 as the program's 100th episode.

Why the almost-eight-year delay? Here's what the Tribune says:

Both Manilow and then-host Amanda Puck remember Obama's debut as a restaurant critic came at a time when the show was still being tweaked. And the president-elect was too good--too thoughtful, too articulate, not enough of an amateur. He ended up dominating the conversation. "It was unbalanced," Manilow said, "to put it charitably."

For more Barack-as-foodie videos, 60 Minutes showed him making tuna salad for his family....

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