There’s a lot of attention focused on an actress-cum-political-candidate’s “gross” bagel order.
On September 9, 2018, New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon appeared on camera at a campaign stop at Zabar’s on the Upper West Side. There, Gothamist captured Nixon’s order of a cinnamon raisin bagel with lox and cream cheese, topping “the mess” with red onions, capers, and tomato. Afterwards, she said “Yeah, sweet and salty, you’re right,” to a seemingly befuddled passerby, indicating the wave of publicity her lunch was about to get.
The general discourse has been very hostile toward the sandwich and, by extension, Nixon for her judgment. Can someone who combines raisins and fish lead the great state of New York? Bon Appétit actually had their entire staff eat the exact sandwich and give their personal reviews, which were mixed.
But I couldn’t help but wonder: In a world where politicians eat in photo opps mostly to pander to their voters, what does it mean that Nixon marches to the beat of her own flavor drum?
You Guys, the Combination Really Isn’t That Weird
All this discourse brought me back to my four-plus years working in a New York-style bagel deli as a teen. I would mostly take orders for standard fare, but every now and again someone would come and request something eye-opening: a closed-faced tuna surprise, a jar of gefilte fish, or a cinnamon raisin bagel slathered with vegetable cream cheese. A turkey sandwich with sprouts on a toasted blueberry bagel was pretty common, too.
Nothing grossed me out more, however, than the concept of lox and cream cheese, but only because I was so unfamiliar with the combination of dairy and fish. When I first actually tried that blissful sandwich, I immediately looked up to the heavens, and begged for forgiveness.
We Got an Expert Opinion
So what does it mean that Nixon isn’t only eating the popular choice? I consulted Behavioral Food Expert and founder of Food-ology, Juliet A. Boghossian, for answers. An expert in non-verbal communication and psychology, Boghossian connects food habits to human behavior based on empirical research and quantitative data, and has done so for companies like Godiva, Starbucks, and Unilever, among others.
“Being unusual/unpopular in your eating habits simply means you are independent in thought, a non-conformist, open-minded to all the possibilities versus constrained to what is safe, traditional, and popular,” Boghossian tells Kitchn via email. “[It] shows you are confident and not influenced by others’ opinions of you. It also shows you have passion and creativity putting your personal stamp on whatever you do.”
Nixon’s outspoken support of prison reform and marijuana legalization backs that up, not to mention her measured responses to questions about her road from Sex and the City to, potentially, the Governor’s mansion.
“From a politician standpoint, this implies Nixon has the makings of a great politician — the guts, vision, and passion to see through controversial platforms even if met with opposition,” Boghossian continues. “On the flip side, she won’t be as PC as career politicians being that her eating habits show she dances to the beat of her own drum.”
Boghossian also added that people who mix foods tend to favor stimuli — that is, they like to always be active, and they do best in socially motivated jobs. Those all sound like traits the best politicians have.
On the flip side, unusual food-eaters (to be frank, unusual to New Yorkers, because there are delicious Turkish and Sicilian dishes that use the fish/raisin combination anyway) tend to have trouble paying attention because they tend to be always on-the-go types.
“It’s the engagement and being present that may challenge her,” Boghossian adds. “But from the standpoint of vision and execution, she has the makings for unstoppable success.”
Raisin bagel? More like a crystal ball!