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Why Cynthia Nixon Can’t Have the Bagel She Wants

The unspoken rules of local food are a recurring nightmare for politicians.
Lox and the city.
Lox and the city.Joe Penney/Reuters

We all know what New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon did at Zabar’s on Sunday. It’s useless to relitigate her bagel order here—it was a mind-boggling meld of sweet and savory that shook many to their cores. All I will say, as a New Yorker myself, is that New York takes immense pride in the quality of its ovular carb patties. And when Nixon chose to disrespect the medium by mixing cinnamon raisin, lox, tomatoes, and capers (why capers? ever!?), it was taken as disrespect to the whole city.

Nixon is far from the first politician to fall into the epicurean trap. In photo-ops across the country, candidates sit down with voters over a meal, hoping to look and feel relatable. They go for some stereotypical local fare; something safe and familiar that screams “I’m just like you!” But these foods are steeped in tradition and unwritten rules. One misstep and you’ve let down your whole hometown, or revealed your carpetbaggery.