The Lighter Side of Congress

Out with the Boehner, in with the Ryan. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With another calendar year and session of Congress wrapped up, HOH would be remiss if we didn't take a look back at what made it all special, from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s parking skills to the richest man  in Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa, dishing on where the cheapest sodas were,  from Capitol Police leaving guns in the potty to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., doing 46 pushups . Hill Happenings Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's notorious exercise band accident started off 2015, leading to a horrific eye injury and broken ribs. Reid missed the start of the Congress and when he returned, he was sporting dark shades. He later announced his retirement, and sued the exercise band maker.  

Meanwhile, the Band Perry helped bring in the new year with a performance at the Capitol Visitor Center on Jan. 13.   That little bit of good cheer soon gave way to the news of Illinois GOP Rep. Aaron Schock's "Downton Abbey"-inspired office décor , which led to a rough week for him and his staff, and turned him into a punch-line at the 71st Congressional Dinner on Feb. 6 , with Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and New York Democratic Rep. Charles B. Rangel picking fun at Schock and fellow lawmakers.  

Mulling the 2015 Taste of America Finalists


This year's Taste of America showdown features a handful of regional eats that have made it to the big dance before, along with some scrappy comestibles that simply would not be denied.  

Instead of the super seafood slate yours truly envisioned, the 2015 finalists could be seen as an endorsement of porcine dining; roughly half of the remaining contenders are either pig-related products or could easily be adapted to include porky elements. (RIP, bacon buffet.)  

Crab Cakes Dominating Taste of America 3rd Round


In other nosh bracketology, Arizona chimichangas are cruising against New Mexico frijoles, and the Maine lobster roll is wiping the ocean floor with Delaware boardwalk fries. Illinois deep dish pizza is well ahead of South Dakota fry bread.  

There are still close races. Tennessee's Memphis BBQ trails Florida stone crabs by a small margin. Indian pork tenderloin leads Illinois Italian beef. In a tight dessert death-match, Florida Key lime pie and Mississippi pecan pie are locked in a close contest. In a stark choice between courses, Montana steak and Oregon blackberry pie are going down the wire.  

Taste of America Sweet 16 Shows Off Slugfests

The chimichanga crowd is not messing around. In early voting for the 2015 Roll Call Taste of America, Arizona's deep-fried pork burrito is outpacing New Mexico frijoles by a nearly 14-to-1 margin, one of the more lopsided contests in the hard-fought round of 16.  

The Maine lobster roll-Delaware boardwalk fries duel isn't much closer, with the crustacean contingent crushing its potato antagonists by about a 10-to-1 margin. South Dakota fry bread is limping behind the Illinois deep dish pizza behemoth.  

Taste of America Showcases Agony of Regional Defeat


That Mid-Atlantic surf versus turf battle wasn't the only regional roundhousing. Illinois' Italian beef grilled Wisconsin bratwurst, for instance. And Florida stone crabs cracked down on Virgin Islands jerk chicken.  

The current round of voting, open through May 29, features more close-in food fights. New Mexico frijoles, which gassed Alaskan king crab in round two, is in a desert shootout with neighboring Arizona's pork chimichangas, which smothered Nevada's chuckwagon buffet. Across the country, Delaware's secret starch weapon, boardwalk fries, is looking to walk all over another East Coast maritime meal, Maine's lobster rolls.  

Sea Change for Taste of America?

Call us crazy, but this could be the most delicious — and nautical — Roll Call Taste of America yet.  

Nearly half of the regional showdowns happening in Round Two (voting wraps Friday) involve a seafood component.  

Defending Champs Go Down in Taste of America


Who are the new kings of the kitchen? We wonder about Illinois' Italian beef, which trampled perennial favorite Iowa bacon. Closer to home, D.C.'s chili half smoke smothered New York's Buffalo chicken wings.  

Carving Up the Early Taste of America Contenders

Our in-house dining war is just getting started. But curious trends are already emerging in Roll Call’s Taste of America competition.  

Winnowing of the first round contenders is scheduled to conclude Friday, so it’s still anybody’s ball game.