September 6, 2012 —
You can't rile Thomas Wickham with the prospect of the Stir Fry. "So, what are you going to ask me?" he said calmly, as producer Joy Y. Wang and I corralled him into the Studio 4 hot seat.
The man's a farmer, and his family has farmed for generations. I got the sense that nothing phases him. Not even the unblinking gaze of the Studio 4 cat behind him.
Since we were talking about cantaloupe, and the recent cantaloupe-related food-borne illnesses, I had to ask him if he ever got food poisoning. Yes, he said, but he wouldn't tell me what made him ill.
Hmmm, better turn up the heat, Eddings. I thought I'd up the pressure with a little North Fork-South Fork rivalry question. I asked him what makes the North Fork better than the South Fork.
Still calmly in control, Wickham eschewed the 60-second format and gave an elaborate answer. Culture, nightlife, density, demographics...
Now I was breaking a sweat, feeling the pressure of the ticking clock. I intervened, breaking it down for him to "quiet" and "sunshine."
Even when he was offered a choice of "sweet" or "savory" in my standard question about breakfast preferences, Wickham worked his own will on the Stir Fry. Not sweet, not savory, but "cereal, an egg, English muffin, coffee." Every day.
I was ready to put him in the "savory" camp, when he said Dunkin Donuts was his favorite guilty pleasure. Ah! He's got a sweet tooth. Maybe he's slathering that muffin with jam, eating Fruit Loops cereal and stirring 5 teaspoons of sugar in his coffee!
Thomas Wickham's calm demeanor and unflappability makes me doubt that. Savory it is.