On booze, politics and poached rockfish

Political comment and a recipe to boot

April 17, 2011|By Dan Rodricks

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the veteran Democrat, tells me that some of the 87 Republican freshmen in the House of Representatives fear they may face 2012 primary challengers "even more conservative than they are." That's why they're pushing for more cuts in spending on social and environmental programs, Mr. Cummings said. Meanwhile, Maryland's contribution to the GOP freshman class, Andy Harris, tells Nicole Gaudiano of Gannett's Washington bureau that he's considering joining the Tea Party Caucus, led by the amazing Michele "The founding fathers fought tirelessly to end slavery" Bachmann. "I'm very aligned with tea party principles — that this government spends too much and we need to bring it to a more constitutional basis," Mr. Harris says. Well, as someone noted on Facebook the other day, no bait and switch there.

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Another reason to spend more time in happy Howard County: Alcohol retailers can now serve liquor samples in addition to beer and wine samples. A bill allowing this won unanimous approval in both the House of Delegates and the Senate. It's lovely to see such solidarity among Maryland lawmakers when it comes to the real important stuff.

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Del. Pat McDonough, who works the anti-immigration theme better than any politician in the state and garners attention with it any time he's feeling a little neglected, vows to sue over the just-passed in-state tuition bill. Having lost his biggest battle to date — to keep the children of illegal (yet tax-paying) immigrants from going to Maryland's public colleges and universities at one-third the rate they pay now — Mr. McDonough says he's working on a lawsuit against the "Dream Act." People like Pat have a real problem with giving immigrants any kind of a break. But working this hard against their children — against giving the kids who grow up here an affordable education — looks mean and self-defeating at some point, and this is that point.

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Washington College has decided to move the annual announcement of its coveted Sophie Kerr Prize from graduation in Chestertown to — where? New York City? Isn't it bad enough the Yankees dominate the American League East, and just ate the Orioles alive in a two-game set in the Bronx, and that Mark Teixeira, who grew up in Severna Park, plays for the pinstripes? Now Washington College is giving the New York literary set the Kerr Prize, too? The prize goes to a graduating Washington College senior — it's not a national award, not the literary Heisman. It's always disappointing when someone comes along and gets a new fancy-pants idea that anything that's any good or important belongs in New York or Washington.

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Charles Ogletree, the Harvard law professor who served as counsel to Henry Louis Gates Jr. after his racially charged arrest at his home in Cambridge in 2009, has written a book about racial profiling by police, with former Baltimore state's attorney Stuart Simms among the African-American men providing testimony. In "The Presumption of Guilt," Mr. Simms tells Mr. Ogletree about the Saturday in the early 1990s when he was driving his blue BMW, looking for a place to park near a store that rented ceremonial gowns. (Mr. Simms had just come from the installation of Freeman Hrabowksi as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.) A white police officer flashed the blue lights of his cruiser and stopped Mr. Simms. "Is there a problem, officer?" Mr. Simms asked. "I would like to see your license and registration," the officer said. Again, Mr. Simms asked, "Is there a problem, officer?" And the officer replied, "Just do as I said." Answered Mr. Simms: "Will my state's attorney's badge do?" With that, the officer stammered, said, "Let's just call it a day," and drove off.

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The Maryland Department of the Environment says there has been a decline in the levels of contaminants found in fish samples, so it's safe to eat more rockfish. Here's my recommendation: Poached, with sauce verte. This is great for a spring or summer party. Get two big rockfish flanks, stack them and place them in a long pan — I've used stainless steel chafing pans — on top of two burners. You can put coarsely chopped carrot, onion and celery in the pan. Add some lemon juice, salt, a little vinegar, a lot of cheap white wine and some water. Cover with aluminum foil. Poach over moderate heat for, oh, I dunno, maybe 20 minutes, until the flesh is white and firm. Remove from heat and let cool. You can even chill it overnight and serve it the next day. For the sauce verte: a little of the poaching liquid, some oil, some spinach, some watercress, dill, fresh tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. Liquefy that in a blender, add some mayonnaise. Shallots optional. Chill the sauce, and serve it with pieces of the poached, double-stack filet. Garnish with parsley and some cucumber slices. Serve with a crisp white wine.

Dan Rodricks' column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. He hosts the Midday show on WYPR, 88.1 FM.

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