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Obama gets takeout lunch from New Orleans top chef

Democrat Barack Obama stops at Dooky Chase, a legendary Creole restaurant in New Orleans, during the 2008 campaign
During the presidential campaign, Democrat Barack Obama accused George W. Bush of ignoring the pleas for help from the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, leading a government that "sits on its hands while a major American city drowns." Today he made his first trip to the devastated region since becoming president. Before he even stepped down, locals were already accusing him of not doing enough.

Folks in Mississippi were upset that Obama did not visit them. "I'm greatly disappointed he's not coming to Mississippi," said Tommy Longo, mayor of Waveland, Miss., where few structures were undamaged by the hurricane. "There was no city hit harder than Waveland."

Folks in New Orleans were upset that Obama only spent four hours with them. "A town hall event and a mystery stop? That's it?" the Times-Picayune newspaper editorialized last week.

And the fabled restaurateurs of the French Quarter were kind of upset that the president didn't have time for a proper meal. Something about a town hall meeting and a visit to a school.

But, being more enterprising than their political counterparts, the foodies knew just what to do.

Contacting the White House (where presidential aide Desiree Rogers is a New Orleans native -- and two-time Zulu Queen), Leah Chase, the 86-year old chef and owner of the legendary Creole restaurant Dooky Chase, arranged for a takeout meal for the presidential party. Two Secret Service agents showed up Wednesday to talk to the restaurant about "secure" takeout packaging, whatever that means.

Chase wasn't surprised -- Bush had eaten at her restaurant, and so had candidate Obama, seen above.

So, if all goes well, as they wing toward San Francisco for a fundraiser, Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the others will be munching on gumbo, shrimp creole and fried chicken. 

Leah Chase isn't worried. The gumbo should be kept warm, she advised, but her fried chicken is just fine served cold.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo Credit: Associated Press.

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Comments () | Archives (6)

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Well, Obama should be ashamed of himself for promoting hate and untruths. Yes, Katrina did not go well. Bush could have done better. Nagin and Blanco could have had a plan for an emergency, and could have called for the mandatory evacuation a day+ sooner. Nagin could have stocked the Convention Center and Super Bowl stadium with supplies (water would have been nice.) The State of LA should not have ordered that the Red Cross not be allowed into the city to administer aid for those first 5 days; the Red Cross has always been FEMA's first line of providing that assistance. Blanco could have ordered her National Guard in days sooner. Blanco could have requested the Federal Troops sooner, as Bush advised her to do - she admitted that she made a big mistake there (on TV). Bush should have fought longer and harder against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (which FEMA ended up rolled up under the umbrella of), as he knew it would create too much bureaucracy and red tape. It did.

But one more thing that folks should know about, that this paper, as well as the national news kept from them, is that the federal gov. did direct $billions of dollars towards a State run program which was set up to provide Federal cash grants - tax free - to assist in covering uninsured losses in the area. By the time the program was finished with the initial phase, some 117,000 folks had received an average of $63,000 each to help rebuild, or to relocate (numerous options). Later the program has been handing out cash grants to help others elevate their homes above flood stage. Average grants there, I believe are in the $20,000 range.

I suspect that this program may have been by far the largest single aid program directly to citizens ever undertaken by this country. We are the taxpayers, and the concerned citizens out here - we deserve to know that it occurred. The press did not want us to know. That played better for their political agendas. If we'd known, perhaps we might have seen that it was good stuff. Perhaps activists all over could have got behind it, and asked for more in different ways. Instead, all we read is that nothing was done - Bush hated blacks - he didn't care.

Did - does more need to be done? Keep us informed, because an informed community is a powerful community. An ignorant community is an angry community.

No matter who does what, this country whines over anything be it positive or not. Americans need to grow up and quit thinking only they as individuals have the answers. Everyones Christmas gift this year should be a box of tissues so they can snibble some more. As a combat veteran, this country makes me sick with their complaining and feeling oh so sorry for themselves. Grow up...come together and move forward...if you dare get off of your pity pot.

I can't even afford to buy take out. (:(

Better not play golf,they don't allow smoking of the golf course.

On and on, whine, whine whine...
Maybe next forecasted disaster, BO will have ACORN organize an evacuation and it will have a better outcome...maybe send the evacuees to the White house, maybe that would satisfy the people there.... Why is it that Mississippi has moved on and rebuilt and doesn't whine & whine? What's different with these two pictures?

I can't believe how many trips, partying, wining, dinning, and vocations, this man have done since he took office. Stop killing the environment with all those air time and stop spending tax payer dollars and get to work. Los Angeles Time stop wasting paper and do a real story that has meaning.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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