Feasting Famously with Tucker Carlson
A man truly living in his own Never, Never Land of food
Some might know Tucker Carlson as the conservative knight in pastel bow-tie armor who battled the fire-breathing Ragin’ Cajun’ himself, James Carville, when they co-hosted CNN’s Crossfire. Others know him for his political commentary on networks such as MSNBC, and still ongoing, Fox News. However most recently, people will likely think of his wildly successful online journalism effort in launching The Daily Caller, a political news website reported to easily average over one million visitors every month.
I know Tucker as a down-to-earth guy who loves Phish, The Grateful Dead, and a liberal use of profanity. But what of Tucker Carlson and food? Surely he must subsist on more than a diet of Ayn Rand and coffee? Right? I sat down with the man himself to find out.
Entering The Daily Caller offices in a non-descript building that are uniquely omnipresent in DC, a young, cheerful receptionist (who clearly has not had her optimism shattered just yet), called for Tucker, who momentarily shouted down a long hallway for me to join him. Cheerfully greeting each other much in the manner of long lost fraternity brothers, I followed him into a small kitchen where he got a cup of coffee, and cursed humorously about the days political musings with one of his staff journalists, before leading me into his office. An office, decorated with mid-1990’s Phish and Grateful Dead posters, political ads that had seen better days, and a damn comfortable white couch on which I sat, he faced me across a coffee table in a rustic director’s style chair. Catching up, small chatter aside, the topic, now turned to food.
The key to clams is A) they must be whole, you can’t take the bellies off.
“What is your favorite thing to eat?” was the first, clearly deep, question directed at Tucker. Without a moment’s hesitation, “Shellfish!” was fired out of his mouth as if he knew my question. Proceeding to list the various salty, briny, creatures he loves the most, Tucker discusses his annual pilgrimage to New England, where he contends is the only real place in the US to get clams. “The key to clams is A) they must be whole, you can’t take the bellies off,” he says as if giving a collegiate lecture on the subject. “The bellies have to be full of sea water, and sand, and clam excrement. And they should be enormous. And filthy. Clams are like sex; you can’t think about it to much, you just have to dive in face first.” Pushing thoughts of Tucker, sex, and diving into anything face first aside, he says Blacksalt is the best place in the area to get clams, specifically, the clam chowder. Having been to Blacksalt a half dozen times, I can agree they have some damn good seafood, and one of the best tuna tartares I’ve had in this country. (*Note to self, order chowder next time.)
It’s not long after we digress to discussing who cooks in his household, freely admitting “I couldn’t make a pop tart at gunpoint,” are we back on shellfish. “I love shellfish,” he says. “There’s also an element of danger in shellfish, I like that…the Japanese understand this, that’s why they eat poison blowfish. Because even as it’s sliding down your gullet, you realize ‘this could be my last bite ever,’ and you realize that, and there’s something thrilling about that.”
I couldn’t make a pop tart at gunpoint.
Being an avid consumer of raw oysters and the like, I understand the danger element. However, I can rationalize the, “they taste good so I eat them” element over the “holy shit I might die, this is thrilling, please feed me more oh master of my fate,” concept that Tucker noted. But hey, one man’s potato is another man’s arsenic.
So where does Tucker like to eat in DC? “I like the grill at the Metropolitan Club; I think they have the best salad bar in Washington,” he says. “I eat at The Palm a lot. One, I like the people who work there, I like all the waiters; two, it’s consistent. The crab cakes are excellent at The Palm. I like the veal parm a lot. I love the pickles. So I like The Palm.” Note to the readers, when a guy who literally ranted for five straight minutes about shellfish tells you he likes the crab cakes somewhere; they’re likely pretty damn good. Point in fact, I have had the crab cakes at The Palm, and they are painstakingly delicious.
Before we can move on, Tucker gets this look of spite in his eye, looks straight at me and says, “I used to like the Mayflower.” The purposeful emphasis on “used” has me intrigued. “They used to make me a salad a couple times a week, an off menu salad, which consisted of iceberg lettuce, massive amounts of bacon, literally so much bacon that every observant Muslim in the entire hotel had to leave, and double bleu cheese dressing.” Shit, now I’m hungry. When I mention it sounds like a standard “Wedge” salad without the red onions and tomatoes, I am interrupted by an upset Tucker who condescendingly remarks, “I don’t need the onions and the tomatoes are a distraction.” Yeah, don’t distract me either stupid vegetables – bring on the bacon.
Tucker, his wife, and children “eat out every day.” Yet ironically, he is not fat, and not very cautious about what he is eating. In talking with Tucker, it is clear he enjoys food, and he enjoys eating, but there is no sound rationality behind the fact that he is not morbidly obese, or even slightly overweight. By all accounts, Tucker is a slim guy. Especially given the Muslim-offending-bacon-plate with a side of lettuce, hold the distracting vegetables, discussed earlier.
When asked about his “comfort foods,” he remarks that he tries to “stay away from comfort food” because he doesn’t “want to buy new belts.” This makes sense. This makes a lot of sense until he says, “I try to eat cheese at least twice a day; I eat it a lot for breakfast. I like cheeses that smell strong. I like stinky, funky cheeses. I like the kind of cheeses that seem dangerous and immoral. If left to my own devices, I would subsist on Camembert and French bread.”
Cheese? French bread? Eating like Lindsey Lohan drives; throwing caution to the wind. Poison fish? Dirty oysters? What have I gotten myself into?!? This man is depraved, sick I tell you, twisted even. Ok, ok, ok…maybe his worldly travels reveal a Tucker I don’t yet know?
“When we were in France, we literally made a pilgrimage to Dijon, France just for the mustard,” he commented as if chatting about the weather. I’m in disbelief.
We continue down this spiral of haphazardous eating where the laws of metabolism and caloric intake don’t matter. “I do wear the same belt,” Tucker says, “because I don’t like to buy new clothes. So I can judge my girth by my belt. I went up two notches after my time in France.”
When we were in France, we literally made a pilgrimage to Dijon, France just for the mustard
France? Pilgrimage? Mustard? Belt sizes? We have to move on.
Bringing the conversation back to this side of the Atlantic, we discuss the local food scene. Having lived in New York as well as DC, I asked Tucker what he thinks of the DC food scene and the criticism of recent years coming out of New York. “You know, I’m caught in a time warp. To me, it’s always 1988,” Tucker says. “I go to Martin’s. I go to The Tombs. I go to The Palm. So for me, going to a place like SEI on Ninth Street is totally radical.”
From out of nowhere the epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I am sitting across from a guy who can’t, or chooses not to cook; makes milkshakes with his kids (honestly, that story is one of my favorite); eats, essentially whatever the hell he wants; doesn’t buy new clothes; for the last fifteen years has looked the exact same; and has been eating out at the same places for two decades. Tucker Carlson is Peter Pan, and he has found his Never, Never Land.
Sure, he has a lovely wife, and beautiful children. But the man has drunk “Chinese liquor with rat fetuses in the bottom” in Nicaragua in the 80’s. He readily admits, “If no one was watching, and I had no concerns about buying new clothes…Skippy Super Chunk on whole grain, heavy bread, with raspberry preserves, and Fritos in the middle, for texture.” Peter freaking Pan, I’m telling you. “I haven’t had that sandwich in about ten years,” he adds while longingly looking right through me, “but I still think about it,” he laments, “it haunts me.”
We end our conversation with a standard word association game, where I say a word, and Tucker is asked to respond with the first thing that pops into his head.
Hehehehahaha. Watery eyes.
Ew. I, I, I can’t. Redacted I guess is what I would say.
Haha, lemonade. Urine.
I’ve known Tucker for many years now, and yet we’ve never talked about food. For a guy who has had as many career changes as Chaz Bono has genders, I left happy knowing that there’s a few things that are constant, stable, and predictable in his life. Quirky and weird as they may be, there’s no doubt about it, Tucker Carlson has found his food fantasy land, his own Never, Never Land – and he’s living in it.