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Dining tips for presidential candidates

You knew the campaign had gone South when Mitt Romney offered an ode to grits. But it just reminded me of how dangerous it can be for a candidate when local food becomes the topic.

Like in 2004, when John Kerrey went to Philadelphia and ordered the local favorite - cheese steak - then asked for it with SWISS cheese. Not good! Sort of like asking for mayonnaise on corned beef in New York.

Or when Republican candidate Gary Bauer got in a pancake-flipping contest in New Hampshire and like an outfielder misjudging a fly ball, fell off the stage.

So as the campaign moves across the South toward Texas, my home territory, here as a public service are some tips for all of the candidates:

First, they may call 'em "cheesy grits" in Mississippi (as Governor Romney referred to them), but in Texas they call 'em cheese grits. Like cheese burgers. Nobody says cheesy burgers. Same with grits.

Second, Texans love Mexican food, and someone is bound to offer you candidates a tamale. They're great, but remember - they're wrapped in a corn husk. It's called a shuck. You take it off before you take a bite.

During the '76 campaign someone gave President Ford a tamale - right in front of the Alamo. He didn't know about the shuck and took a big bite, shuck and all. Nearly choked! No one remembered anything else about the day.

So just remember, shuck that tamale, THEN eat it. You're going to really like tamales!

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