George Osborne is far from alone in being party to food-based political controversyby Nick Renaud-Komiya / June 27, 2013 / Leave a comment
The revelation that George Osborne ate a burger from Byron, an upmarket fast food chain, while preparing yesterday’s spending round speech has sent the media buzzing with the kind of frenzy hitherto reserved for general election nights.
Osborne has defended his choice of posh nosh on the basis that “McDonalds doesn’t deliver.” Accusations of him trying to appear “a man of the people” abound. But this is a popular story because it combines a number of factors: class, politics and–crucially–food.
This storm is far from the most serious political food disaster. It’s not even the first burger-related faux pas. Here is our pick of the top ten political food gaffes.
1. A surfeit of lampreys
King Henry I was renowned for his monstrous appetite. Unfortunately his greedy lust for eating lampreys, aggressive eel-like fish, cost him his life in 1135. Contemporary sources describe him “choking on a surfeit of lampreys”. Many years later Charles Dickens wrote: “He died of an indigestion and fever, brought on by eating, when he was far from well, of a fish called Lamprey, against which he had often been cautioned by his physicians.”
2. Alfred the cake burner
Many moons before “pastygate”, the King of Wessex, Alfred the Great had his own gastronomical gaffe. The story goes that in 878 AD, upon travelling to ‘Egbert’s Stone’ near Selwood in Somerset, he was given shelter by a peasant woman who didn’t realise his identity. She asked him to watch some cakes she had left cooking on the fire while she popped out. On her return she found that Alfred had let the cakes burn, so deep in thought was he about the affairs of his kingdom.
3. Jam doughnuts and freedom
“Ich bin ein Berliner,” proclaimed US President John F Kennedy, addressing the people of West Berlin in 1963. During the speech, perhaps one of JFK’s most defining moments, his soaring oratory was deployed to offer America’s solidarity to the people of West Germany during the Cold War. While he meant to express his support by describing himself as a Berliner – he accidentally told the crowd that he was a jam doughnut. His use of the indefinite article ‘ein’, urban legend has it, resulted…