President Barack Obama apparently passed on Maine lobster, potato chips and blueberry pie at a Senate luncheon last week catered by Sen. Susan Collins.
The president met with Senate Republicans on Thursday for a wide-ranging policy discussion over lunch, according to The Hill. The luncheon’s menu was decided by Collins, who chose lobster salad from a University of Maine recipe, Fox Family potato chips, wild blueberry pie made with Wyman’s blueberries, and Gifford’s ice cream. Yet the president did not dine during the 90-minute meal.
Collins was quoted after the luncheon saying the president looked “longingly” at the Maine fare, and she joked that the lack of a food taster on hand as perhaps why the president stayed away from the spread. The conservative news website Daily Caller posted an audio clip of Collins’ full remarks to reporters.
“Apparently he has to have, you know, essentially a taster,” Collins said in the clip. “And I pointed out to him that we were all tasters for him. That if the food had been poisoned all of us would have keeled over.”
“He remarked that we have far better food than the Democrats do, and I said that was because I was hosting,” Collins said.
The luncheons are held weekly and organized by Collins, a responsibility she took on several years ago, according to Kevin Kelley, the senator’s communications director. A different member hosts each week, usually serving food from their home state, and the gatherings allow the senators a chance to speak about the issues, according to Kelley.
The senator’s comments were taken by some as an example of excess, with some commentators comparing taste-testing to a service royalty would require. But Kelly said the comments were meant as a joke that some reporters took out of context.