I’ve learned that you have to move quickly to partake of this first offering of food, because the flight attendants pack it away in the overhead bins almost as soon as we find our seats. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to miss a meal on these trips, because there will always be another. And another.
Sure enough, the second meal of the day arrived about 20 minutes into our five-hour flight to Nevada.
“Would you care for breakfast today?” the flight attendant leaned in to ask. “We’ve got three choices: a sausage frittata with turkey bacon and hash browns, French toast or a bagel with lox.”
My companion across the aisle, Jeff Goldman of CBS News, opted for the lox — a great heaping pile of it, with two bagels, enough to feed four. I chose the eggs but skipped the potatoes.
I needed to pace myself.
“We’re going to finish what we started,” President Obama likes to say toward the end of his speeches. Maybe so, Mr. President. But on the campaign trail, always leave food on your plate.
Food on the road is something of an obsession for traveling journalists. We talk endlessly about how much food we’re served, when our next meal will come, how surprisingly delicious the Mexican spread was two stops back. Flight attendants walk past with trays of cake, cookies, chips and candy or wrapped sandwiches for us to take off the plane. In New Orleans, it was beignets on the bus to the House of Blues, where the president attended a fundraiser.
All of us are haunted by the prospect of gaining 20 pounds before November. I’ve packed on five in a single swing before, and Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News told me she gained 20 pounds in 2008 (and allowed me to say so in this story only on the condition that I also note that she’d lost 20 since January).
We talk about the horror that our cellphone calorie counters would reveal if we were honest about keeping track. But again and again, we are drawn to the buffet spreads, snack baskets and cheese platters to make it through these grinding days, which veer between stress and boredom as we rush to file, Tweet and post Instagram photos, then idle for hours during security sweeps and private fundraisers closed to the media.
“I don’t know if I’m hungry again. Or anymore,” mused Mike Memoli of the Chicago Tribune to no one in particular as he eyed the grilled-chicken-and-wild-rice buffet at the back of another holding room at another convention center. This one was in Portland, Ore., where Obama would address about 900 supporters.