When it comes to international dining, the Bill Clinton stamp of approval is practically the equivalent of a Michelin star.
In fact, several restaurants in other countries report that a visit from the former President is all the endorsement they need to cement their reputation and long-term success.
Perhaps the most notable detail in this story is that it's international restaurants that are benefiting from his approval. Here's why using Bill Clinton as a selling point doesn't always work as well here at home:
First things first: Before, during, and after his two terms, Bill Clinton's name was practically synonymous with fast food. (Or, is there another former McDonald's- and doughnuts-loving President I'm confusing him with?) He even said:
I don't necessarily consider McDonald's junk food. I eat at McDonald's and Burger King and these other fast-food places. A lot of them have very nutritious food. You know, they have chicken sandwiches, they have salads, they've got all kind of things.
Now those, my friends, are not the words of someone with a fussy palate. Therefore, pardon me if I approach his restaurant recommendations with nothing less than skepticism.
Second, Mr. Clinton has a history of health problems: He used to be overweight with high cholesterol and underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery in September 2004. He's since worked to improve his diet and his health and deserves props for that. Still, as a rule, his diet and food choices are not exactly something we should all make a point of striving for. (And, if you disagree, please re-read the quote above.)
Mr. Clinton has also admitted to experimenting with a vegan diet ... When it comes to restaurant recommendations, here's my rule of thumb with respect to vegetarians and vegans: If I'm looking for a vegetarian and/or vegan restaurant, they're obviously the best people to ask. But if I'm looking for a restaurant with both meat and veggie options, I bypass them altogether. Why? Because there's no way they could offer a balanced opinion -- they haven't eaten most of the food! And, I won't make exceptions just for Mr. Clinton.
And, finally, the most obvious reason why a Bill Clinton-endorsed restaurant might not be successful here at home is this: Some people hate the guy!
That's not to say that I wouldn't be excited to eat at a place that Bill Clinton had visited -- I absolutely would! But in a place like, say, Wyoming, it might be best to keep that page of the guest book under wraps.
Would you be more or less inclined to visit a restaurant knowing Bill Clinton had eaten there?
Image via sharedferret/Flickr