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Cindy McCain's "pilfered" recipes

I thought this article in the NY Times was interesting; seems the recipies on the McCain website were lifted directly from the Food Network. The story is that an "intern" did it.


Those of us who often post on the home cooking board, where we are constantly warned about verbatim recipes, can be amused.

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  1. "The mousse soon exploded."

    That's beautiful, man.

    1 Reply
    1. re: romansperson

      And "“The intern has been dealt with,” said Tucker Bounds, a campaign spokesman, who declined to provide details. Nonetheless, Mr. Bounds said, “we took away his zero pay.” "

      In this day and age when you can Google anything, it cracks me up that someone - intern or no - could be stupid enough to pass off a FN recipe as their own. Especially copied word-for-word, as these seem to have been. Change the wording at least!

    2. I bet the McCain's are mortified that a Rachael Ray recipe was listed.... now they aren't just branded as recipe thieves, but as having horrible, horrible taste.

      1. Cindy McCain is from a rich family. Odds are she rarely cooks, and I'm sure that the simple truth is an intern was delegated to find "family" recipes for the website. As it is, none of the three major presidential candidates look to be the kind of people who cook frequently enough at home to have "family" recipes.

        It's a relatively minor issue and every election there's always a brief controversy over prospective First Ladies and their recipes.

        22 Replies
        1. re: Roland Parker

          I agree that its a tempest in a teapot, but it seems the press always feel that the "family" recipe should be a determining factor for our decision making process for national leaders. Do you think the Brits ask Mrs. Brown what her favorite neeps and tattie recipe is? Or whether the French ponder endlessly about Carla Bruni's prowess in the kitchen? Yeah, I think Sarko cares more about Carla's prowess elsewhere in the Elysee palace.

          1. re: Phaedrus

            Sure the whole "what is your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe" thing is stupid, but in this case it was the McCain website putting out the recipes-- not the press asking for one. In such a case there's really no excuse...

            1. re: DGresh

              True. You can also argue that they were doing it in anticipation of the press' inquiry. Regardless, the whole thing is silly. As one of the commentators said. If you want me to believe that these Ivy League educated millionaires make their own chocolate chip cookies, you must think I am really gullible.

              1. re: Phaedrus

                I don't think the amount of money someone makes indicates whether they enjoy cooking or not. Trisha Yearwood (married to Garth Brooks) lives close to me and my best friend did work on their home, and she (and he) both cook. Obviously they can hire it done. But she ENJOYS it.
                Could you argue that on a political campaign they don't have time right now? Sure. But it doesn't mean they don't cook for relaxation or fun when they just because they are educated and well-paid.

                1. re: Firegoat

                  Thank you for posting this. It seems to me the article is more about plagarism and actions by the intern, than about whether Mrs. McCain actually cooks or not (about which, I have to say, I could care less). I know a number of people with the money to have others cook for them (or to eat out all the time) who chose to cook for themselves. In one case, the man actually had a second kitchen built in his house, just for him, as opposed to the kitchen used to feed the household daily, for parties, etc.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    I think it's safe to say the the intern didn't take it upon him/herself to post the recipes on the campaign website. An intern makes a good scapegoat, but it's highly unlike that an intern would be posting stuff on a website that was (1) totally his/her own idea or (2) different from what s/he was given to post. I think the most likely scenario was that the intern was told to go on the web and find some recipes -- maybe even given a list of recipe names -- to post, but somehow wasn't instructed (or forgot) to alter them slightly. The issue I have is that they were passed off as "family recipes," which to me means they have some kind of history with your family (even if it means they aren't original to your family, but you've been making them for years, like many of my "family recipes"). If they'd said "favorite recipes" and given credit, then all would have been well. But that's not what happened.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I guess I just didn't think that it's "safe to say the intern ...". But I have no way of knowing that one way or the other at this point. My comments were based on taking the article at face value, and thinking that the issue of a political campaign putting out false information on its website as being a topic that probably isn't within CH's focus.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        ITA with Ruth, both about the intern not being truly responsible, and the characterization of the recipes as Ms. McCain's. In fact, I had even said to my DH last night as we were watching Olbermann that if they had just said they were favorite recipes, they would have been OK.

                        My understanding is that recipes can't be copyrighted--if someone had made a few changes here and there, nobody would have said boo about this.

                        Finally, who gives a crap if the adoring wifey cooks or not--which is what I think Hilary was trying to convey in 1992 with the "cookie baking" crack that got her in some trouble. We sure do have some strange ways of deciding who should be President!

                        1. re: coney with everything

                          FWIW - the instructions in the recipes can be, and often are, copyrighted, but the ingredient list can be reproduced word for word and the recipe can be paraphrased.

                          1. re: coney with everything

                            I agree completely about the ridiculousness of the whole concept.

                            What I can't understand is the need for people to choose the president of the United States -- arguably the most powerful person in the world -- based on how much s/he seems like "just folks" (the famous "who would you like to have a beer with" test). When I'm choosing a president, I want the most capable, most astute, most knowledgeable, most "worldly" person available, not someone who can clear brush or bake cookies! I don't even care if s/he is a particularly nice person, as long as I can trust him/her to make good decisions, and I sure as hell don't care whether s/he prefers steak and potatoes or fois gras and caviar.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              And even more so, from my perspective, is the relevance of what a presidential candidate's spouse may or may not cook.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                Although I'd be interested to know what Bill can/does cook! :-)

                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                Although given the current political/legal climate, it might be helpful to have a fois gras lover in the White House! I might have to rethink that stance!

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  We can guess.

                                  Fried baloney sandwiches, rooster fries, ambrosia, moonpie cake. I think he would be too frenetic to have the patience for barbecue. Pickled hamhocks.

                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                    What are rooster fries? Like calf fries/Rocky Mountain oysters?

                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                      Yep, fried rooster testicles. They're more batter than testicles.

                                      Come to think of it though, Bill may not want to serve that since it may remind him of what Hilary did to him after Monica.

                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  I think Jon Stewart made a similar point--don't we WANT an "elitist" to be running the country???

                                  And hopefully one who understands food issues, e.g., the ridiculousness of the current subsidy system which encourages commodity foods produced by industrial farms and transported over long distances.

                                  Maybe they should analyze the ingredients in these recipes for origin, true cost of energy, petroleum used to fertilize crops, etc. Then the candidates could present their thoughts on current US farm and trade policies.

                              3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                According to the article this isn't an isolated incident, so I think the intern is probably a scapegoat.

                                1. re: jlafler

                                  You are absolutely right - I missed that! Unless, of course, one intern was responsible for disseminating recipes (grin).

                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  In the south, many "Family recipes" that have been handed down from grandma, etc. can actually be found on the bag of flour or whatever you're making. That's where grandma got her recipe and no one was the wiser.

                                  In this case. Whether the intern really was to blame or was just the scape goat, there has to be someone to check before Cindy's name goes on it because once it does, it belongs to her. Plagiarized by her or not.


                        2. re: Phaedrus

                          Phaedrus: ROTFL! The mental picture of Carla Bruni bustling around while she prepares her family's cherished recipe for Tripes a la Mode de Caen will make me happy for weeks.

                          And again, it is totally amazing that anybody could be stupid enough to post Food Network recipes as her/his own.

                      2. Folks, there's an interesting discussion to be had here on plagiarism of recipes, and whether recipes from political figures are even relevant. But please, hold back on mean-spirited personal comments about politicians and their spouses. Our request that members not bash TV personalities (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/334317) applies to public figures, as well.

                        1. This was a non-eventful buried puff piece in a gratefully uneventful day, TY. But for all the RR bashers (jfood not a fan but not a basher) you have to give her credit for having the class to be grateful and even invite them on her show.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: jfood

                            I know RR's perky personality can be grating, but I see no indication that isn't genuine.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Well, I don't think she had any choice but to be gracious. What could she do? Rip on Mrs. McCain? Be a real witch about it, that doesn't serve any purpose. So yeah, I think she is genuine here, but I also think its a win/win for her.

                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                One always has a choice and she chose the high road. credit due where credit deserved.

                                Heck, John probably eats lots of meals on the plane so Cindy can go whip up something in 30 minutes in the galley. :-))

                                1. re: jfood

                                  There's choice and then there is good publicity.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    It's easy to make the right choice when it'll get you good ratings.

                                    I'm just sayin'......


                                  2. re: Phaedrus

                                    The other chefs whose recipes were copied didn't say anything; the Food Network also had no comment. RR could easily have said nothing.

                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                        I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but it did occur to me that saying nothing wouldn't be very characteristic of RR.

                                        1. re: jlafler

                                          exactly what i mean: rr was all over it "like white on rice!" :)

                                          or "like flies on sh*&"

                                      2. re: jlafler

                                        Absolutely she could have said nothing. That would have been the real high road. She loves the attention she's getting over this. The woman must draw all that energy from her own overexposure. "The possible next President of the US nicked MY recipes. MINE!"

                                  3. Thought this was a real hoot. Old enough to remember Hillary's remarks about baking cookies and having tea in 1992 not her style. Would give $100 to see Michelle Obama on Down Home with the Neely's having Gina show her how to do strawberry shortcake!

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                      Hillary's problem was that she was ahead of her time. Sixteen years later it's more of a given that women -- even political wives -- can have lives and careers of their own that don't involve baking cookies.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        I agree that she was indeed ahead of her time, but she was guilty of doing exactly what Obama did and now she is capitalizing on it. Of course, I expected Obama to have learned about shooting your mouth off in that regard too.

                                        I still find it interesting that they expect the wife of the candidates to be Suzy Homemaker. Cindy McCain's family owns a huge Anheuser Busch distributorship in Arizona. I am not sure of her position within the family business but I don't think she is a passive and silent part of the business.

                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                          The "Suzy Homemaker" thing is downright retro. I keep reading statistics about how Americans -- of all classes -- don't cook anymore, and don't eat meals together anymore, and yet somehow political wives have to prove that they do it. I think it has to do with the male candidates needing to prove that they're manly, which includes being married to a womanly woman. Or something. And Hillary has to walk a fine line: tough as a man, but still womanly.

                                          It's all political theater.

                                          FWIW, I read a recent "New Yorker" profile of Michelle Obama that quoted her response to a question during a campaign stop about Americans' eating habits. She talked about how her household had turned over a new leaf about a year ago, trying to eat more fresh/organic and less packaged food and take-out, and about what an eye-opener it was to go through her cupboards reading labels and realizing some of the junk she'd been feeding her kids. And she touched on the problem of access and afforability of nutritious foods. The reporter said it was the most animated she'd seen Obama on the campaign trail.

                                          1. re: jlafler

                                            I agree with you yet somehow think you've got it somewhat wrong.

                                            It's all political theatre. There's absolutely no doubt about it. I don't think it's the man has to look manly. Like he's got his woman under control. I think it's more about getting a package deal now. I doubt a single man (I guess you can now throw women into that mix as well) could become president. You have to have a great 1st lady. Said first lady is as important to getting elected and thus, much like the president, has to come off as "Everyman/woman". All Americans have to feel a connection to her.


                                      2. re: Diane in Bexley

                                        ah, diane! your hypothetical show just flashed through my mind. mo would probably punch gina. or just lecture her. yikes!

                                        "change"....the channel!

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          Alkapal, somehow the vision of Mrs. Obama on Down Home with the Neelys is just stuck in my head. When Gina would makes goo goo eyes at her husband, would Michelle lecture her on how to treat/diss your husband? Would the Rev. Wright show up and chastize the Neelys for appealing to baser standards and having no pride in their heritage? Would Jesse & Al cite them for a violation of their heritage as well?

                                          Now I also would like to see Bill Clinton on the Paula Deen show trying out his "First Lady" skills by making fried chicken, biscuits and eating watermelon. Not sure we could survive that show, there would be way too much "sugar" if you know what I mean. Probably even more over the top than Paula's latest party shows!

                                          John & Cindy McCain could do a Grilling & Chilling with Bobby Flay. She doesn't look like she cooks (or eats either), but John looks like he might know his way around a BBQ grill.

                                          1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                            diane, if you are not currently a theatrical producer, you should consider a career move!

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              Thanks! Have written a few screenplays, more for my pleasure than anything else. Kind of a riff on the theme of Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, if anyone remembers that movie? Anyone interested?

                                            2. re: Diane in Bexley

                                              Maybe John could be on Bizzare Foods with AZ and see if AZ could choke down some of the stuff I'm sure JM was fed while in a POW camp.


                                        2. I did take exception to the fact that they blamed this on an aide, even though it was pro-offered under Cindy McCain's name, indicating some flim-flam and a flagrant disregard for (a) the truth of the plagiarism, and (b) the attempt to make it look as if Mrs. McCain was just an ordinary lady who enjoyed cooking.