Summer is road-trip season, so we’ve been taking a culinary tour of America. Because Portland is a city of immigrants from other states, we didn’t have to leave town to do it. We're traveling to 50 Portland restaurants to try one distinctive food from each state—continuing tomorrow. After 32 days on the road, our 50 Plates tour arrives back home in Oregon, which joined the union on February 14, 1859.
The state: Oregon, where the popular DOS-era children's computer game Oregon Trail ends. It's home to Portland, the only pleasantly habitable city in the U.S. according to the current issue of a prominent London-based magazine.
The food: What, you thought we were just going to tell you? Sorry, this ain’t our first rodeo, folks. We know better than just to declare James Beard’s onion sandwich to be Oregon's state food, then sit back and read 300 comments about how we’re idiots who probably couldn’t tell a marionberry from a kotata with a Peterson Field Guide and a microscope. No chance, Oregon.
Besides, we have a better idea. You're going to tell us what Oregon's state food should be. Then we're going to see to it that your wish becomes law.
First, here's how we’re picking the food:
We're taking nominations between now and Tuesday, Aug. 5. What should Oregon's official state food be? Leave your ideas in the comments section below, on our Facebook page, in a Twitter-based tweet, or, if you have a photo of the dish handy, tag us on Instagram. Don’t just tell us the food, but where you think is the best place to get it. A human here will read every submission, even the stupid ones.
We'll then narrow the field to 10 or so reasonable ideas. Why do we get to play gatekeeper? Because we're gonna go to the mat on this thing, that's why. This isn’t some Buzzfeed or OregonLive poll meant to stir up clicks: This is a weighty and portentous exercise in digital democracy. In fact, we’ve developed a strategy for ensuring that your culinary will becomes the law of this land. More on that in a second.
On Wednesday, Aug. 6, we will post the official ballot here at wweek.com. You will have exactly one week to vote. On Wednesday, Aug. 13, the vote will close. You will then have to wait a week for the final results, which will be published in our Aug. 20 issue.
Then, we lobby. Because lobbying is how you get things done around here in this state. Need proof? Ask the poor marionberry lobby.
Here’s what’s going to happen:
—Willamette Week staffers with legal training will draft legislation to make the dish that wins this contest Oregon's official state food.
—All members of the state legislature will receive a letter on our company letterhead encouraging them to support this legislation.
—Businesses that would stand to benefit from Oregon's new state food becoming what you, the readers, wish it to be, will receive a letter encouraging them to support our proposed legislation.
—We will make a lobbying trip to Salem, where we will attempt to meet with legislators. We will drink and carouse with influential legislative staffers—or whoever is willing to drink and carouse with us. Maybe just the interns or David Wu. (What exactly does carousing entail? We may need to hire a consultant to help with this.)
—The first elected Oregon State official who supports our bill publicly should expect to receive a campaign contribution of $100. This will be done regardless of his or her other political positions or personal virtue. We are a one-issue lobbyist, just like Philip Morris.
-This legislator will also see his or her brave leadership saluted in a Willamette Week blog post filled with statements that can easily be taken out of context in campaign literature. Think "demonstrates brave bipartisan leadership," "a voice Oregonians can believe in, "an advocate for everything right about this state."
—The first official who publicly opposes our proposed legislation will be personally and professionally destroyed. While our very serious news department will not be involved in any way, our not-so-serious culture department will use the limited investigative journalism skills at our disposal to tip his or her canoe, and tip it good. Expect mean-spirited FOIA requests aimed at uncovering how often they’ve canceled work to go to the dentist, calls to former lovers (maybe just for fun!), digging through arrest records to see if a second cousin has run afoul of the law, and even more. We will dig up footage of piano recitals at age six, and we will make fun of it. Sure, we are very probably joking about all this—but who wants to risk discovering that we're not?
What wonderful food deserves such ardent support?
You tell us below, then come back Wednesday to vote.