Forty years after Martin Luther King got the runs after eating a batch of past-its-sell-by-date Vindaloo, a fart let out close to a battery of microphones by the presidential candidate Barack Obama has once again led America to search its soul.
Did Obama perhaps eat too many beans trying to edge in on Hilary's Hispanic vote? Or was it too many blintzies consumed on fund-raising trips to New York? To these questions, and many more, you will find answers – hundreds and hundreds of answers – on every blog, in every newspaper, on every chat show, in every living room in America. But all we can say with true certainty is that Obama's peptic parp has once again seized the initiative and the moral high ground, and recast the political agenda in this most fascinating of elections.
That's because Americans are now absorbed in one of their periodic public debates about digestion and what it truly means to be an American. Usually, these debates are provoked by controversial food items, like OJ Simpson's crème brulee or the uneaten hamburger of Rodney King, but now Obama's inspired act of anal rhetoric has spread the debate to the four corners of this great country that is, now, after 40 years of inner nutritional discomfort, finally waking up to the quintessential essense of what it means to be American.
What does it matter that the presidential candidate's church's minister, the Rev Wright, once disparaged such White American staples as Apple pie and Twinkies and even expressed a preference for Halal food and the recipes of the foreign chef Osama bin Zeardunzat? Though all this might sound like cacophony to the British ear, the conversation does, if you listen closely, reveal the complexity of the state of gastronomical relations in America.
A couple of weeks ago, in a speech Obama made following the mass exposition of the Rev Wright's views on food additives, he put it like this: "I like all kinds of food – health, junk, Mexican, Asian, Puerto Rican, Serbo-Croat, matza, you name it! And I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."
And indeed there are Americans, of every race, every hue, and every culinary disposition who want Obama to succeed precisely because he talks like this, and, more importantly because he eats the food and farts the fart.