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Everyone’s a (Food) Critic

A teacher, a pilot, a cop, and a rock star offer their takes on the stereotypical foods of their trades.

Nothing ruins a cop show quicker than a hackneyed doughnut joke. Still, we wondered if-as with most clichés-there might be something to it after all. We appointed our own panel of experts to dig into the foods most associated with their jobs. Move over, Jeffrey Steingarten.


a TEACHER on apples:

\nI absolutely love apples, and believe it or not, several times a year, a student actually does give me one. However, they usually hand it to me immediately after lunch, so I suspect it's simply leftovers. At lunch I'm usually too busy to eat- making copies, calling parents, and conferencing with students-so free food is always welcome. Usually it's a Red Delicious. Braeburns are my favorite, but Granny Smiths in an apple cobbler come in a close second. I've been given other food, too. You name it: carrot sticks ... really any fruit or vegetable you'd find in a child's lunch sack. With all the junk food our children are eating these days, students still give away apples quite often. If I had my pick, though, instead of apples, I'd love to be getting Starbucks gift cards.Andrea Peterson is the recipient of the 2007 National Teacher of the Year award.\n

a PILOT on airplane food:

\nThe first time I was ever on an airplane was an American Airlines 727 that flew from Boston to Washington, D.C. They served, in economy class, sandwiches with cheesecake for dessert, and I remember they actually offered me a second helping of cheesecake. Today, you do that flight in a 50-seat regional jet and you're lucky to get a Diet Coke. I never thought airplane food was particularly bad, I just think it misses the point. People don't want a fancy French restaurant at 30,000 feet; they just want something to eat, and a distraction on a long flight. What are you supposed to think when you're handed a menu promising "authentic Italian minestrone with garlic and herb croutons"? You're not going to get a fancy meal. You're going to get a half-assed meal pretending to be fancy, served on a crowded tray filled with plastic wrap and cups. Economy travelers don't want to live out some bourgeois fantasy of the 1940s. Give me a damn sandwich or some pasta.Patrick Smith is the author of Ask the Pilot and writes a column of the same name for\n

a COP on doughnuts:

\nI think the cop/doughnut thing came around because cops, working late at night, need coffee to stay awake, and the only way to get coffee in the wee morning hours is at the all-night doughnut places. So the doughnut thing may not be accurate. In fact, my buddy Stan has been a cop for 33 years and has never eaten one because the association bothers him. But me, I love doughnuts: old-fashioneds, apple fritters, buttermilk bars, cake, maple bars, twists ... all of them! Once I not only had a warm Krispy Kreme, I ate six of them at one time, and I'm willing to bet I could eat a dozen if I had a Diet Coke to wash it down. I like the independent places best. Each has a specialty that they make, and the staff likes to see cops come by. The only thing I would say cops like more are sunflower seeds, based on all the damn seeds I find on the floor of my police car.Andrew Smith is a Los Angeles Police Department Commander.\n

a ROCK STAR on whiskey:

\nWe tend to drink whiskey onstage, though every now and again we drink tequila, which is probably not a good idea. And one night in New York, we were forced to drink vodka onstage, which was a really bad idea. You're not supposed to give people from Alabama vodka-there's like a rule about that or something. But a little nip of whiskey from time to time onstage kind of makes your throat feel good and opens it up and gives us the illusion that it's good for singing. I also like the communal spirit of passing the bottle around. To me, it's more about that than about the drinking itself. We mostly drink Jack Daniel's because it's always there. You can go anywhere in the world, it's always the same. A McDonald's hamburger may be different in Amsterdam, but the bottle of Jack Daniel's is exactly the same as the bottle of Jack Daniel's in Nashville or Singapore.Patterson Hood is the lead singer of the Drive-By Truckers. Their new album, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, is out now.\n

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