Food columnist Tom Parker Bowles' book The Year of Eating Dangerously hits bookstores today. The son of Prince Charles' second wife, Camilla, the well-born Brit chronicles a year's worth of culinary adventures, including stops throughout Asia, Europe and Middle Tennessee.
What's interesting about the chapter entitled "Nashville" is not the author's anthropological observations of participants in the annual Jack Daniel's barbecue competition (imagine Sir David Attenborough narrating with breathless lockjaw as a pack of wild dogs devours a carcass), but Parker Bowles' comments on Mayor Bill Purcell, who accompanied him to Prince's Hot Chicken Shack.
"A typically slick and ebullient public servant," the author writes of Purcell, "he speaks with polished eloquence on most subjects close to the city's heart."
As I read those words, I felt a swell of municipal pride. "That's our mayor," I thought, "slick and ebullient." But with five days to go until we elect a new ambassador of hot chicken—I felt a sudden twinge of anxiety. How would a traveling food critic describe Bob Clement or Karl Dean?