One of the charming little gifts the Bush administration left for the American people before vacating the White House was to slap a fat tariff on several popular European products, including Irish steel-cut oatmeal, French truffles, foie gras, Italian sparkling water, and a whopping 300 percent tariff on Roquefort cheese. The official line from the Bush administration was that the tariffs were retaliation for the EU’s rejection of hormone-fed beef (don’t mess with Texas!).
That’s a pretty lame excuse. Even accepting the flawed premise that there’s much to be gained from retaliatory tariffs, the combined cost of the new tariffs isn’t nearly enough to offset the EU’s position on beef, and isn’t going to persuade anyone in Europe to change it. Let’s call this what it is: a big middle finger to the arugula-eating, Whole Foods crowd the Bush administration so despises. The aim here wasn’t to punish Europe, it was to punish the Bush administration’s vision of the typical Obama voter.
Anyway, there’s a wonderful little cheese shop just down the road from me called the Cheesetique. Owner Jill Erber was pissed off enough about the Roquefort tariff to let loose with a righteous Jeffersonian free-trade rant on the Cheesetique blog. If there’s one thing I love more than a quarter pound of St. Andre triple creme, it’s a few paragraphs of anti-government fury from an unlikely source.
Think I’ll patronize the Cheesetique this afternoon. If you live in the area, aside from the enormous selection of cheese, I also highly recommend their store-roasted tomatoes, which they preserve in olive oil. They’re delicious on just about everything.