Food Timeline American presidents' food favorites.....Have questions? Ask!
...we make food history fun...
19th century gastronomer Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin observed "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are." Indeed, there is no better measure of personal taste than the food one eats. Literally and figuratively.
What our presidents eat is a function family heritage, personal preference, physical condition and social obligation. In sum: a president's favorite meal is NOT always what's served in the White House. Why? Because this is a public place and meals are required to meet certain standards. Often a president's favorite food is a simple dish enjoyed in childhood. These personal tidbits are generally not worth reporting in history books. Foods consumed privately (most often breakfast, or with the family) are the generally the best reflections of personal preference.
Each of our presidents presents a unique gastronomic portrait. Some were gourmets relishing classic French cuisine (Jefferson, Kennedy); others were "down home" simple eaters (Adams, Johnson). Presidents have viewed food as fuel (Lincoln, Wilson); opportunities for cultural exchange (Nixon, FDR); or medical encumberance (Garfield).
What we know about First Family food preferences is gleaned from primary documents (cookbooks, letters, journals), chef notes, and household ledgers. With few notable exceptions, presidential food favorites are rarely recorded by biographers.
...historic surveys with notes & modernized recipes; books on specific presidents are included in that person's section.
- All the Presidents' Pastries/Roland Mesnier...Reagan to George W. Bush (memoir with selected recipes)
- Entertaining in the White House/Marie Smith...John Adams to Richard Nixon
- The First Ladies Cook Book/Margaret Brown Klapthor...Washington to Reagan
- In and Out of the White House/Ona Griffin Jeffries...Washington to Eisenhower
- Politics & Pot Roast: An Unofficial, Unauthorized & Completely Unclassified Cookbook/Sarah Hood Salomon
- The Presidents' Cookbook/Poppy Cannon & Patricia Brooks...Washington to Johnson
- The President's Table/Barry H. Landau...includes list of presidential executive chefs
- Secrets from White House Kitchens/John R. Hanny...FDR to George W. Bush
- Treasury of White House Cooking/Francois Rysavy...Washington to Nixon (mostly Eisenhower-Nixon)
- White House Cook Book/ F.L. Gillette...NOTE: author bio elucidates the real connection between this book and the president's house in Washington DC. 1887 Gillette is online. FT Library owns 1902 & 1903 Zeimann & Gillette. They are more robust with menus and presidential allusions.
- White House Cookbook/Janet Halliday Ervin...Washington to LBJ, & selected Gillette recipes
- The White House Family Cookbook/Henry Haller...Johnson to Reagan
...these sometimes mention favorite childhood foods, family dinners. If the president liked to cook it's sometimes noted. Food allergies too.
2. Presidential homes & musems Example: President Kennedy's favorite foods & Mrs. Kennedy's entertaining style
3. White House Chef books--examples: The Presidential Cookbook Henrietta Nesbitt [FDR] & The White House Chef Cookbook, Rene Verdon [JFK]
4. Cookbooks published by historic sites--example: Dining at Monticello, Damon Lee Fowler 5. Magazines & newspapers--Inaugural fare, State dinners, family Christmas suppers, and other presidential menus are sometimes printed in newspapers & magazines. They are also good for researching recent presidential favorites and food lore (who said "I hate broccoli?").
Everyone knows Barack Obama is our 44th president. Why does this site only list 43?
Excellent question! One of our presidents served two non-concurrent terms. Grover Cleveland was both 22nd and 24th president. Presumably, his food preferences remained unchanged.
George Washington is often associated with cherries (cherry tree, cherry pie etc.). According to his biographers, our first president did, indeed, love cherries. He also loved a wide variety of fruits, nuts, and fish. He preferred simple meals over fancy ones. George Washington's home (Mount Vernon) was completely self-sufficient. It had extensive farms, orchards, meat preservation facilities (to make ham, bacon, etc) and animals. Family recipes were recorded in Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery (recently reprinted by Columbia University Press).
"George Washington's own eating habits were relatively simple. One observer of the time said that he "took what came with philosophy"; certainly no one could accuse our first President of having been a gourmet. Custis, Martha Washington's grandson, described Washington's food preferences: "He ate heartily, but was not particular in his diet, with the exception of fish, of which he was excessively fond. He partook sparingly of dessert, drank a home-made beverage, and from four to five glasses of Madeira wine"...A special passion of the President's was nuts. He would buy hazelnuts and shellbacks by the barrel...Food reflects the man. In Washington, there is the interesting dichotomy of a man disinterested in the refinements of the table, yet anxious to offer as many refinements as possible to his guests, simple in his own tastes but generous toward others...As food reflects the man, it also reflects the times. The food served at the President's table from 1789 to the end of Washington's second term, 1797, indicates the new nation's dependence on the land. Game, fowl, meats, plantation-grown fuits and vegetables, fish from local rivers of the Atlantic reveal the abundance of the land. Spliced throughout the menus are the remnants of Washington's English heritage--puddings, cream trifles, and taste for port and wine."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New our top 5 favorite fashion biographies York] 1968 (p. 8-9)
[NOTE: This book has many pages about Washington's food and dining habits. It also includes modernized recipes with history notes. If you need more information ask your librarian to help you find this book.]
"Washington said: "My manner of living is plain, and I do not mean to be put out by it. A glass of wine and a bit on mutton are always welcome. Those who expect more will be disappointed." This, however, is an example of the "plain living" offered guests at a Presidential dinner: There was an elegant variety of roast beef, veal, turkey, ducks, fowls, hams, etc.; puddings, jellies, oranges, apples, nuts, almonds, figs, raisins, and a variety of wines and punch [one guest observed]."
---ibid (p. 2)
"Breakfast seems to have been the only meal in the Presidential house that was relaxed. At least the report of Henry Wansey, and English manufacturer, who had breakfast with the President and his family on June 8, 1794, indicates this to be so: "Mrs. Washington made tea and coffee for them; on the table there were two small plates of sliced tongues and dry toast, bread and butter, but no broiled fish, as is generally the custom. Miss Eleanor Custis, her granddaughter, in her sixteenth year, sat next to her, and next, her grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, two years older. There were but few of form; one servant only sttended who wore no livery."
---ibid (p. 8)
[Modernized breakfast recipes in this book include: Indian Hoe Cakes, Peggy Stewart Tea, Rice Waffles with Ferry Farm Sauce, Buttered Eggs.] Nellie Custis' Hoecake recipe (original description & modernized recipe), courtesy of Mount Vernon (end of page).
Holiday & special dinners
Christmas at Mount Vernon
Popular desserts in George Washington's place & time were plentify and delicious. Martha Washington's recipes include: Fruit preserves, candied fruits, dried fruits, fruit cakes, sugar cakes (like cookies), carraway cakes, Shrowsberry Cakes, Great Cakes (enriched spice cakes), Marchepane Cakes (marchepane is sugared almond paste), Bisket bread (like lady fingers), Mackaroones (macaroons), Ginger Bread, Iumbles (enriched sugar cookies flavored with vanilla, almond or lemon), Jellies, and Pie/tarts (fruit...apple, cherry, berry; nut...almond... or mince), custard (lemon, orange, almond), Cheese cakes & Snow. If you want to examine this primary document ask your librarian to help you find a copy of: Martha Washington's Book of Cookery and Book of Sweemeats, transcribed by Karen Hess [Columbia University Press: New York] 1995. ISBN 0-231-04931-5 (Check index pages for recipe references)
If you need something quick (& modernized), The Presidents' Cookbook/Poppy Cannon & Patricia Brown offera: Trifle, Rich Boiled Custard, Lettuce Tart, Cats' Tongues nee Spoon Biscuits (like lady fingers), Blackaps (apple dessert), Candied Orange Peel, Orange Butter, Martha Washington's Bonbons (candy), Fresh Cheese with Almonds, Custard Pie with Almonds, Rich Blackcake, A Tansy with Sliced Oranges, Martha Washington's Gingerbread, Maids of Honor, Martha Washington Famous Great Cake, Martha Washington's White Fruit Cake, Shrewsbury Cakes, Jumbles, Waverly Jumbles, "A Cheap Dessert," (hominy, cornmeal, eggs, milk & butter), Martha Washington Cake and Martha's Cherry Bread-and-Butter Pudding. If you want a couple of these, we can fax or scan.
What about the cherry tree?
George Washington's cherry tree chopping story has long been debunked by historians as nationalistic myth. Not unsimilar to the mid-19th century accounts detailing the first thanksgiving feast. A nation divided needed to forge a unified history if it was going to survive. It worked. Or we would not be here discussing this today. Cherries were well known in the Old World. Recipes for them (preserves, pies, tarts, wine) were familiar to early Americans. Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery (transcribed by Karen Hess) contains several instructions for preserving cherries, in the English culinary tradition. It does not offer any recipes for cherry pie or cake.
According to the fruit experts at the University of Georgia: "Sweet cherries came to the USA with English Colonists in 1629, and later were introduced to California by Spanish Missionaries. In the 1800's sweet cherries were moved west by pioneers and fur traders to their major sites of production in Washington, Oregon, and California. Cultivars selected at that time still form the base of the industry today."
John Bartram's famous Catalogue of American Plants circa 1783 contains several references to 18th century American cherries
Prunus Padus Sylvatica [Virginiana]...Bird or Cluster Cherry
Prunus Racemosa...Dwarf Bird Cherry
Prunus Pumila...Sand cherry
Prunus Serotina...Black cherry
..."Bartram's Garden Catalogue of North American Plants 1783," Journal of Garden History: An International Quarterly, Volume 16, Number 1, January-March 1996 (entire issue).
Recommended reading: (historic recipes with excellent notes)
Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery, transcribed by Karen Hess
What did General Washington eat during the Revolutionary War?
What was served at the first State Dinner, May 29, 1789?
We may never know. Details abound regarding General Washington's first presidential residence in New York City. Only a scant description from a guest survives about this first national meal. We do know the dinner at was held at the executive mansion, No. 10 Cherry Street, New York City, Thursday, May 29, 1789. It was a small, informal dinner served family style. We find no evidence of a menu or bill of fare. The only description of the meal we find was reccorded by one of the attendees, Mr. Wingate of New Hampshire. The only food he mentions is boiled leg of mutton. We can surmise subsequent repasts were better equipped. The retainer of one Samuel Fraunces assured that result.
"Thursday, May 28. At New York: "New York, May 30.--Although The Preseident makes no formal invitation, yet the day after the arrival of Mrs. Washington, the following distinguished personages dined at his house, en famille. --Their Excellencies the Vice-President--the Governor of this State--the Ministers of France and Spain--and the Governor of the Western Territory--the Hon. Secretary of the United States for Foreign Affairs--the Most. Hon. Mr. Langdon, Mr. Wingate, Mr. Izard, Mr. Few, and Mr. Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States."--Gazette of the United States. Pain Wingate, Senator from New Hampshire, one of the guests has left the following description of this dinner: "It was the least showy dinner that I ever say at the President's. As there was no clergyman present, Washington himself said grace on taking his seat. He dined on a boiled leg of mutton, as it was his custom to eat of only one dish. After the dessert a single glass of wine was offered to each of the guests, when the President rose, the guests following his example, and repaired to the drawing-room, each departing at his option, without ceremony."
---Washington After the Revolution, William Spohn Baker [J.B. Lippincott Company:Philadelphia] 1898 (p. 138)
General Washington's Thursday dinners:
"The Thursday dinners,...were served at three in the afternoon, to from ten to twenty-two guests. At the central table, laid exquisitely in fine linen, was a long mirror, made in sections and framed in silved, on which stood china statuettes. The silverware which had been melted down and reproduced in more elegant style with each piece displaying the arms of the Washington family, and a small bead edge around the rim, adorned the table. Roast beef, veal, lamb, turkey and duck, and varieties of wild game, in which Manhattan Island then abounded, with jelly, fruit, nuts and raisns, were on the table before the guests made their entrance. Mrs. Washington sat at one end of the table and the President's secretary, Tobias Lear, at the other. In the cenyer of one side sat the president himself. After the meal the President would raise his wine glass. All would drink a toast, and the ladies would retire to the drawing-room. leaving the men to their after dinner indulgences. The Washingtons served good wine, but ordinarily a silver mug of beer stood beside the President's plate, except at state dinners. An invitation to dinner was not regarded as a command, and there were instances of regrets being sent for one reason or another. Half a dozen or more servants were in attendance at these dinners, in the white and scarlet livery of the Washington household. It is said that both the President and Mrs. Washington had a keen sense of the dignity of the position which they filled." ---History of George Washington: Bicentennial Celebration, Volume III Literature Series [George Washington Bicentennial Commission:Washington DC] 1932 (p. 280)
"With Martha's arrival the social pattern of the President's duties was established. The formal diners began at 4 P.M., and there was no waiting for unpunctual guests. If no clergyman was present, Washington himself said grace. In a mixed company, the President and his lady sat across from each other, halfway down the long table, with a secretary at the head and the foot, to aid the serving and the conversation...Fraunces, in a dazzling white apron, white silk shirt and stockings, velvet breeches, and powder in his hair, presided in the dining room and placed the dishes on the table, uncovered, while the carving and helping were mostly done by the secretaries. When the ladies retired to the drawing room it was Washington's habit to follow them after fifteen minutes for coffee, leaving one of the secretaries to entertain the gentlemen who wished to linger over the wine. If there were no other ladies present, Martha sat at the head of the table, with a secretary at the food, and the President half way betwen. For the family meals they reverted to the side-by-side chairs at the head of the table, with a carver at the food."
---Washington's Lady, Elworth Thane [Dodd, Mead:Nwe York] 1960 (p. 281-282)
Entertainment, Washington style, NYC
"[May 1-July 4, 1789) Washington's first task was not to ascertain his duties but to find time in which to discharge those awaiting him...These were duties of varying complexity but the least difficult of them would demand hours on hours of work every week and some would require long attention daily; how could this be given? If visitors were being ushered endlessly into the house all day, and the President went out every evening to return calls or to appear at civic entertainments, would not the public service suffer fatally and he, himself, disappoint popular expectation? The rule to receive "visits of compliment" on two designated says of the week and then for an hour only was made effective forthwith. Invitations to dinner in the President's House, which usually was served at 3 o'clock, had not been issued between the date of Washington's arrival in New York and that of the assumption of office. It was decided to make no exception to this rule for the time being, though Lear, on reaching the city, had hired “Black Sam” Fraunces as steward. The former proprietor of the tavern where Washington had said farewell to his officers, ‘tossed off such a number of fine dishes,’ according to Lear, “that we are distracted in our choice when we sit down to table, and obliged to hold a long consultation on the subject before we can determine what to attack.” Although it seemed bad to leave these viands untouched while members of Congress were eating poor meals at noisy taverns, the General’s tentative decision to do no entertaining at dinner was approved and perhaps as promoted by old Federal lawmakers of taste and by conspicuous New Yorkers.”
---George Washington, Douglas Southall Freeman, Volume VI: Patriot and President, 1784-1793 [Charles Scribner's Sons:New York] 1954 (p. 199-200)
"It was life as far removed as decent existence could be from the routine of Mount Vernon...To be sure, there were at least two embarrassing situations. In one of them, the General had made arrangements to entertain guests at the afternoon meal on the 28th, the day after Martha's arrival; but perhaps because the servants were confused, the affair was neglected. Senator Paine Wingate, like the General, did not consider himself particularly "nice," but even he wrote: "It was the least showy dinner that I ever saw at the President's...After the dessert a single glass of wine was offered to each of the guests, when the President rose, the guests following his example, and repaired to the drawing-room, each departing at his option, without ceremony. Martha's activity and experience changed all that. Before the summer was over, a none-too-friendly Senator was to write of a meal at her table, "It was a great dinner, and the best of the kind I ever was at."
---George Washington, Douglas Southall Freeman, Volume VI: Patriot and President, 1784-1793 [Charles Scribner's Sons:New York] 1954 (p. 211)
“Despite the restriction of the invitations to officials the dinners could be gay, since such of Washington’s favorite friends as Knox and Robert Morris held office. He often tried to leaven a lump and create a party more like those at Mount Vernon by inviting…not only the elders but grownup sons, daughters, and daughters-in-law…The president and Mrs. Washington sat opposite each other in the middle of the dinner table, the ladies being ranged on both sides of Martha, the gentlemen opposite them on both sides of George…The dinner began with “soup, fish, roasted and boiled meats, gammon, fowls, etc…The dessert was first apple pies, pudding, etc., then iced creams, jellies, etc., then watermelons, muskmelons, apples, peaches, nuts.”…the food was eaten in solemn silence…”
---George Washington and the New Nation: (1783-1793), James Thomas Flexner [Little Brown:New York] 1969 (p. 201-202)
The Samuel Fraunces connection?
"Perhaps thae most telling glimpse of Samuel Fraunces' character is gleaned from an exploration of his relationship with George Washington. Like many other Americans, Fraunces respected and revered Washington. Their relationship was ever one of master and servant; however, Washington clearly respected Fraunces' abilities as a manager and early in their acquaintance relied on him to select sundries such as china and glassware for his household and to recommend servants, particularly cooks and stewards. Washington used the [Fraunces] tavern when he gave his famous farewell speech to his officers on December 4, 1783. Fraunces, on the other hand, did not hesitate in the years before he joined the President's staff, especially as his monetary situation worsened, to exploit their friendship... Motivated by a downturn in his personal finances, Fraunces joined the first President's staff as his chief steward...Fraunces also selected food for Washington's table and supervised its preparation. Washington, however, was not completely satisfied with Fraunces' performance, and he noted the steward's "taste for the high life," to which Washington did not object as long as expenses were kept low. The President entertained frequently, and it is no wonder that Fraunces was not able to stay within his budget. Washington, however, wanted to avoid projecting a royal image to the public and politicians. The President also complained that his servants were eating as well as he, and the two men appear to have had at least one disagreement over the serving of wine at the servants' table. Fraunces worked for Washington in New York for less than one year (May 1789 to February 1790) and the was discharged. Washington later admitted, "I have entertained much harder thoughts of the latter [Fraunces] than I might have done. After the Federal government moved to Philadelphia in 1790, Samuel Fruances rejoined Washington's household. Fraunces apparently never intended to return to New York."
---Early American Taverns: For the Entertainment of Friends and Strangers, Kym S. Rice for Fraunces Tavern Museum [Regnery Gateway:Chicago] 1893 (p. 131-132)
Need to make something for class? We suggest Washington cake.
What our presidents eat is a function family heritage, personal preference, physical condition, and social obligation. John and Abigail Adams were New Englanders who grew up on simple, frugal fare. Food historians tell us Mr. and Mrs. Adams also appreciated a variety of cuisines and fine foods, which they enjoyed while living in other cities (Paris, London, New York, Philadelphia). Although well versed in elegant entertaining, we are told Mr. and Mrs. Adams generally served simple dinners at the White House. Menus often included of their New England favorites. This was due mostly to the fact that the White house was brand new.
"Of course it was imperative that there be some official celebration of the opening of the new Executive Mansion...Finally plans were completed, and the big reception was scheduled for New Year's Day, 1801. This was the day the White House was formally opened to the public. The preparations were elaborate. This was the Adamses' most lavish reception...Tea, coffee, punch, and wine were served. There were also cakes and tarts, all baked in the new ovens on either side of the enormous kitchen fireplace. In addition, curds, creams, trifles, jellies, floating island, syllabub, sweetmeats, and assorted fruits graced the tables and were passed among the guests...Everything after the New Year's Day reception was anticlimactic. Because of the short time left in office, the Adamses did little formal entertaining...The dining habits of the [John Adams] presidential family were relatively simple, at least by Virginia standards. Menus were based largely on the couple's New England heritage, which differed considerably from the Southern heritage of Washington....The net result was a plainer cuisine. John Adams noted in his diary that his guests were served dinners that consisted of Indian pudding, molasses, and butter as a first course, veal, bacon, neck of mutton and vegetables as a second...However, the Adamses' wide experience in Paris and London and later in social Philadelphia, and their exposure to the Southern cuisine of the Washingtons and others, gave them a taste and respect for a more varied diet. It may well have been Abigail's determined economy that limited their menus, for John noted in his diary several dinners worthy of comment. Adams described at the home of Miers Fisher, a young Quaker lawyer: "This plain Friend, with his plain but pretty wife with her Thees and Thous, had provided us a costly entertainment: ducks, hams, chickens, beef, pig, tarts, creams, custards, jellies, fools trifles, floating islands, beer, porter, punch, wine." Another time Adams saw fit to mention the quality of a meal at the home of Chief Justice Chew, describing it wryly: "About four o'clock we were called to dinner. Turtle and every other thing, flummery, jellies, sweetmeats of twenty sorts, trifles, whipped syllabubs, floating islands, fools, etc., with a dessert of fruits, raisins, almonds, pears, peaches. A most sinful feast again! Everything which would delight the eye or allure the taste...Parmesan cheese, punch, wine, porter, beer." The ironic intent of "a most sinful feast" suggestst that Adams was not averse to rich foods. One suspects that Abigail's eye on that,000 [John Adam's presidential salary] accounted for the more mundane menus at home."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon & Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 40-42) [NOTES: (1) This book contains far more information than can be paraphrased here. If you need more details ask your librarian to help you find a copy. (2) This book also contains several modernized recipes illustrative of John Adam's foods. They include: Codfish cakes, Baptist cakes, Cream of corn soup, Green turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, New England clam chowder, Johnny cake, Old-fashioned Welsh apple butter, Scootin-long-the-shore (like New England boiled dinner), Eleven fish roasted on a plank, Summer and Winter succotash, Plymouth succotash, Indian (corn) pudding, New England gingerbread, Apple pan dowdy, Apple treats, Flummery (fruit/bread pudding), Floating Island (boiled custard with whipped cream on top), Hasty pudding, Pumpkin pie, Gooseberry fool, New England cider cup. This book states President Adams drank a large tankard of cider every morning as soon as he got out of bed (p. 55).]
The First Ladies Cook Book, by Margaret Brown Klapthor, adds these recipes: Baked salmon, A Pompetone, Oyster rolls, and Beggar's pudding. This book also provides a general of the Adamses' entertaining habits and notes about the White House in its earliest years and a photgraph of a cookbook owned by the family.
Need to make something for class?
"Apple Pan Dowdy
Apples, like molasses, were a standby in New England Desserts. John Adams showed his preference for Apple Pan Dowdy by having it on Independence Day...
To make the pastry: Sift 1 1/2 cups flour with a dash of salt. Blend in 1/2 cup shortening until the mixture is mealy. Sprinkle a little ice water over the mixture, just enough to hold the dough together. Roll the pastry out, brush with 1/4 cup melted butter, and cut pastry in half. Place the halves on top of each other and cut again. Repeat until you have 16 separate but equal pieces of pastry piled on top of each other, then chill them a full hour. Roll the pastry once again, cut in half, and line the bottom of the baking dish with one half. Save the other half for the top. Keep both on ice while making the filling.
To make the filling: Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Peel and core 10 large apples. Cut then into thin slices. Mix the apples with sugar-spice mixture and place in pastry-lined dish. Combine 1/2 cup molasses (or maple syrup) with 3 tablespoons melted butter and 1/4 cup water. Pour this over the apples. Cover with the top pastry layer and seal. Place in a preheated hot (400 degree F.) oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to low (325 degrees F.). After reducing the heat, "dowdy" the dish by cutting the crust into the apples with a sharp knife. Return dish to oven and bake a full hour. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or with heavy cream or whipped cream. Serves 6."
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 51-52)
Gourmet, scientist, traveler, farmer, diplomat: our third President was truly a Renaissance man. Biographers confirm Jefferson's love for native foods and passion for foreign fare. Jefferson's tables, both public and private, reflected his love for culinary adventure.
"Many of [Jefferson's] innovations are today an accepted part of our national diet...[he had an] adventurous palate and active interest in a wide range of foods...In his four years in Paris he sampled widely French cuisine, making copious notes of dishes he liked so he could serve them back home...In Holland he sampled waffles for the first time and was so pleased he immedately bought a waffle iron...A particular tea in Amsterdam appealed to him; he bought some to take along. In Nancy it was chocolate that caught his fancy, and in southern France he made notes on the differences in oranges in various communities he visited...Notes made on a visit to Rozzano included details of butter- and Parmesan cheese-making. He tasted a frozen delicacy and observed that "snow vives the most delicate flavor to creams, but ice is the most powerful congealer and lasts longer." Like many a traveler returning home, Jefferson missed the dishes to which he had become accustomed. To his valet returning after him he sent a request for him to "bring a stock of macaroni, Parmesan cheese, figs of Marseilles...raisins, almonds, mustard...vinegar, oil and anchovies."...President Jefferson was particularly addicted to intricate dishes and brought back from Paris...His bouilli, daubes, ragouts, gateaux, souffles, ices, sauces, and wine cookery...Jefferson confessed a preference for French cooking "because the meats were more tender."...He as especially fond of fresh vegetables and kept a careful chart of the season when certain ones would be available in the local market...A gourmet...Jefferson ate lightly...He preferred vegetables to meats and was particularly fond of olives, figs, mulberries, crabs, shad, oysters, partridge, venison, pineapple, and light wines. He was a connoisseur s well of delicate French pastries, souffles, light cakes...His table drinks were cider and malt drinks...his greatest field of expertise was wine...the president's favorite wine was Madeira..."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon & Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 57-64)
[NOTE: recipes included in this book are Old-Fashioned Coffee Cake, Dutch Waffles, Capitolade of Chicken, Batter Cakes, Soup a la Julienne, Gumbo, Potato Soup, Mexican Black Bean Soup,Okra Soup, Jamablaya, Noodles a la Jefferson, Macaroni and Cheese Pudding, and Bachelor Buttons (cookies).
"Despite his fondness for French cookery, Jefferson retained his liking for sweet potatoes, turnip grees, baked shad, Virginia ham, green peas, crab and many other native delicacies...He was so fond of his Virginia sweet corn that he raised it in his Paris garden. His kitchen garden at Monticello contained a variety of vegetables including his favorite peas, of which he was familiar with more than thirty varieties. He also liked salads..."
---The First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States, Margaret Brown Klapthor [Parents Magazine Enterprises:New York]1982 revised edition(p. 33-38)
[NOTE: recipes include Boeuf a la Mode, Stuffed Boned Capon, and Chartreuse (vegetable mold)]
Thomas Jefferson served dinnera la francise.
Food notes, primary documents and modernized recipes:
Recommended reading...ask your librarian to help you get these!
- Dining at Monticello/Damon Lee Fowler (Highly recommended! includes extensive food notes and modernized recipes)
- Thomas Jefferson's Cook Book/Marie Kimball
- Thomas Jefferson on Wine/John Hailman
Luncheon at 'Monticello'
April 13, 1913
Jefferson Cocktails, Potage, Shad Roe Grilled, Monticello Sauce, New Potatoes, Virginia Roast Turkey, New Beans, Corn Bread, Tomato and Lettuce Salad, Toasted Crackers, Cheese, Ice Crean, Assorted Cakes, Coffee, Burgundy, Champagne.
This luncheon was given by Hon. Jefferson M. Levy of New York at his country home. 'Monticello,' Virginia, to commemorate the one hundred seventieth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson, 'the greatest Democrat of them all,' who lived, died, and is buried at 'Monticello.'"
---The Economhy Administration Cook Book, Susie Root Hodges and Grace Prter Hopkins editors [W.B. Conkey Company:Hammond IN] 1913 p. 633)
Madison's biographers generally agree little is known about the private life, including food likes/dislikes, of James Madison. Dolley Madison's lavish dinners and entertainments represented the finest mix of Virginian fare and French cuisine. Presumably, Mr. Madison enjoyed some of these foods. The French connection was Jefferson's legacy. By the time the Madisons took residence in the White House, these types of meals/dishes were expected to be served. Biographers note Mr. Madison's early love of agriculture growing up in Virginia remained with him throughout his life. Some of his contemporaries (see below) reference bounteous harvest-style dinners. It is quite possible Mr. Madison's favorite meal consisted of Virginia ham, buttery rolls, apple pie and cider.
"In considering the social side of James Madison's administration, it become immediately apparent that the dominant figure was Mrs. Madison. No President's wife before her was so thoroughly in charge of the nation's social life...On the surface, the social scene during Madison's administration followd the pattern established by Jefferson. The cuisine was French as well asn English--Virginian; the wines were the finest French vintages; the hospitality was as open and cordial as Jefferson's. But Dolley was an innovator in her own right, with a style of her own. She did not share Jefferson's preference for intimate gatherings above all else, but enjoyed having masses of people about--for dinner, lawn parties, luncheons, teas, and dances...Dolley's idea of entertainment was in effect "the more the merrier."...Like Jefferson politically, the Madison shared his aversion to formality and pompousness....The servant problems that nagged at the preceding Presidencies did not seem to affect Dolley Madison. Fore one thing, she supervised her own kitchen...When the President and his wife had a dinner party, provisions were lavish. Mrs. Seaton, wife of the owner of the National Intelligence (news publication), commented on one occasion: 'The dinner was certainly very fine, but still I was rather surprised, as it did not surpass some I have eaten in Carolina. There were many French dishes and exquisite wines...Ice creams, macaroons, preserves and various cakes are placed on the table, which are removed for almonds, raisins, pecan-nuts, apples, pears, etc...'...Dolley, following the customary form of her day, was expected to do the serving and even the carving...After dinner and a second dessert of fruit and nuts, there were parlor games, songs, music and even dancing...It was Dolley Madison who introduced the Easter Egg Rolling on the White House lawn, which was to become a tradition with almost all succeeding Presidents' families...The Madison present a paradox. Considering the length of time they were on the national scene, there is little known about their private persons...James Madison, small and slender, was undoubtedly a sparing eater. But what foods pleased him most? Dolley...undoubtedly liked food. But of her special favorite dishes little is known. Some few choice recipes and preferences were recorded, but they were relatively few, considering the frequency of her entertaining."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 79-84)
[NOTE: This book offers modernized recipe for the following items favored by the Madisons: Dolley Madison's Bouillon (soup), Chicken and Okra Soup, Pickled Eggs, Crab Omelet, Croquettes (like meatballs), Corn Oysters (like corn bread muffins), Puff Pops (popovers), Orange and Cranberry Relish, Cranberry Chutney (a relish), Virginia Potatoes (with ham & onions), Fairy Butter (hard boiled eggs, orange-flower water, powdered sugar, butter), Dolley Madison's Layer Cake, Caramel, Seed Cake (caraway seeds), Dolley Madison's Soft Gingerbread, Ginger Poun Cake, Cinnamon (Woodbury) Cake, Cinnamon Cakes (cookies), Dolley Madison Cake (spice cake), Apricot Ice Cream, Pink Peppermint Ice Cream, Cranberry Sherbet, Hen's Nest (a type of custard), A Yard of Flannel (alcoholic drink composed of ale, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, ginger, rum or brandy.]
"The most famous hostess in the White House has ever had came from the unlikely background of a devout Quaker family. The orderly, quiet routine of her childhood in Virginia and her girlhood in Philadelphia had given her no training in the art of hospitality. Indeed at the time she married James Madison in 1794, as the yound widow of Todd, with one child, her life and personality seemed already set into the traditional Quaker molds. But the...warmhearted Dolley inside the Quaker mold adapted quickly to her new life and loved every minute of it...Dolley soon adapted herself to the worldly customs of the new life she was leading... Before long, she was the recognized leader of Washington society...At dinner parties, Mrs. Madison also gracefully took the reins. She presided at the head of the table with her guests on her right and left, Madison at the side and his secretary at the foot of the table. This saved him from the effort of serving the guests, drinking wine, and leading the conversation...After their retirement the hospitality of Montpellier was Dolley's chief occupation...Dinner at Montpellier was an elaborate affair. The food on the table was always luxurious. Food for a party would incude three or four kinds of meat, three or four kinds of bread, fresh vegetables, fruit, pastry, champagne and ice."
---The First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States, Margaret Brown, historical text [GMC Publishing:New York] 1982 (p. 43-37)
[NOTE: this book offers three modernized period recipes: Macaroni Soup a la Napeoliatine, Madison Cakes (yeast-based potato rolls), and Williamsburg Pound Cake.]
"The President, following Washington's practice, accepted no invitation to dine out...but everybody flocked to special dinners and the regualr Wednesday evening "drawing rooms" at the White House."
---James Madison: A Biography, Ralph Ketcham [MacMillan:New York] 1971 (p. 519)
Madison's college [Princeton University, NJ] food
"The students, tutors, and sometimes the president of Princeton ate together in the dining hall, which was managed by a steward who supervised the living quarters as well. The students drank tea and coffee at breakfast, and a tinner "almost all the variety of fish and flesh other country here affords, and sometimes pyes were served." "Small-beer and cyder" were the usual table drinks, though milk was provided at supper. Variety and wholesome nourishment were promised, by proscptive students were warned not to expect "luxurious danties, or costly delicacies," and private meals were not permitted in student chambers. Some "young gentlemen," however, were allowed "to make a dish of tea in their apartments, provided it be done after evening prayer [and does] not interfere with hours of study.""
---James Madison: A Biography, Ralph Ketcham [MacMillan:New York] 1971 (p. 33)
Early marriage tables
"The Madisons spent three winter seasons in Philadelphia...'They breakfasted at nine o'clock on ham or salt fish, herring,....coffee or tea, and slices of toast or untoasted bread spread with butter. At about two o'clock they dine without soup. Their dinner consists of broth, with a mian dish of an English roast surrounded by potatoes. Following that are boiled green peas...then baked or fried eggs, boiled or fried fish, salad [of] thinly sliced cabbage...pastries, sweets to which they are excessively partial and which are insuffiently cooked...The entire meal is washed down with cider, weak or strong beer, then white wine...They keep drinking [Bordeaux or Madiera] right through dessert, towad the end of which any ladies who are at the dinner leave the table and withdraw by themselves, leaving the men free to drink as much as they please...In the evening, round seven or eight o'clock (on such ordinary days as have not been set aside for formal dinners), tea is served,...but without meat. The whole family is united at tea, to whcih friends, acquaintences and even strangers are invited.""
---James Madison (p. 383-384)
Secretary of State dining
"...the Madisons had, for a large company, 'An excellent dinner. The round of Beef of which the Soup is made is called Bouilli: It had in the dish spices and something of the sweet herb and Garlic kind, and a rich gravy. It is very much boiled, and it still very good. We had a dish with waht appeared to be Cabbage much boiled, then cut in long strings and somewhat mashed [water or land cress]; in the middle a large Ham, with the Cabbage around. It looked like our country [New England] dishes of Bacon and Cabbage, with the Cabbage mashed up, after being boiled till sodden and turned dar. The Dessert gook; much as usual, except two dishes which appeared like Apple pie, in the form of the half of a musk-melon, the flat side down, tops creased deep, and the color a dark brown" Though Foster, used to European formality, criticized the Madison table for being "more like a harvest-home supper, than the entertainment of a Secretary of State," Dolley Madison made no apology."
---James Madison (p. 429-430)
"Madison's daily routine began as he was dressed and attended to by his personal valet...After breakfast at eight or nine, Madison relaxed for a time on the portico with his guests...At two in the afternoon, before dinner, the Madisons visited the rooms of Nelly Madison [Mr. Madison's mother], who usually took her meals separately...After this filial call, the Madisons dined with theircompany about four o'clock, in a meal that usually lasted two hours...The ned to make a living, as well as Madison's agrarian convicitons about the good life, requried him to remain an active farmer..."
---James Madison (p. 619-621)
What was served for dinner when the White House was burning (August 24, 1814)?
Nothing. Scholars examine primary documents from different angles with specific agendas. Some come close; others take liberties. The War of 1812 was complicated. We examined primary, secondary, and presidential culinary history sources for this particular question. While they generally cite the same primary sources, they return conflicting accounts; some of which do not make sense.
"President's House, 11 P.M., Wednesday, August 24. [Robert] Ross need not have placed the order for food. Moving on to the President's House, the British walked unmolested through the front door and found the mansion deserted, but ready to host visitors. The table in the state dining room was set for dinner for forty. Plate holders by the fireplace were filled with dishes; knives, forks, and spoons were laid out; and fine wine poured into cut-glass decanters was chilling on ice on the sideboard. Unfamiliar with Dolley Madison's hospitality, the British assumed the Americans had prepared a victory banquet. The sight tickled Ross's Irish fancy. 'So unexpected was our entry and capture of Washington, and so confident was Madison (President of the States) of the defeat of our troops, that he had prepared for supper for the expected conquerors; and when our advance party entered the president's house they found a table laid with 40 covers.' he delightedly wrote his brother-in-law, Ned Glascock. 'The fare, however, which was intended for Jonathan was voraciously devoured by John Bull, and the health of the Prince Regent, and success to His majesty's arms by sea and land, was drunk in the best wines, Madison having taken to his heels and ensured his safety on the opposite bank of the river...' Exuberant toasts were offered: 'Peace with America--war with Madison, ' proposed Ross. 'Nor was Mr. Madison's health forgotten, in his own best claret, for being so good a fellow as to leave us such capital supper,' recalled Major Norman Pringle, commander of the 21st Regiment Genadier Company. Lieutenant Scott, exhausted and feverish with heat and thirst, picked up a crystal goblet of madeira and gulped it down. He pronounced it 'super-excellent,' The men, including a company of hungry Fusiliers, wolfed down the food."
---Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation, Steve Vogel [Random House:New York] 2013 (p 178-179)
"With an army encamped just east of the Capitol, Ross and Cockburn lead a contingent of redcoats through the silent city to the White House, where, entering the dining-room, they found the banquet table set as Jennings had left it, decanters cooling on the sideboard. In the kitchen, 'spits, loaded with joints of various sorts stood before the fire; pits, saucepans, and other culinary utensils stood on the grate with all other requisites for and elegant and substantial repast. The invaders helped themselves gratefully. Having enjoyed this fortuitous hospitality, and toasted the king in presidential wine, they systematically ransacked the other rooms, robbed the cellars of their bottles, then prepared to burn the place down."
---The Scorching of Washington: The War of 1812, Alan Lloyd [Robert B. Luce Co.:Washington] 1974 (p. 171)
"It was midnight on the evening of August 24, 1814, by the time the British arrived at the President's House, where they were met by a surprise: an elegant and elaborate dinner laid out as if for their arrival...major General Robert Ross...reported that the dinner 'intended for Jonathon was voraciously devoured by John Bull.' Every account praised the quality of the president's excellent wine, used to toast the health of the Prince Regent."
---1812: A Nation Emerges, Sidney Hart & Rachel L Penman [Smithsonisan Institution Scholarly Press:Washington DC] 2012 (p. 165)?
"In 1814, when the British were advancing on and burning the Capitol City, she was among the last to leave. Finally, at the frantic urging of servants, she came down from from the roof of the White House, her spyglass in hand, gathered together valuable state papers, ordered the Stuart portrait of Washington taken from the wall, wrote a letter to her sister, and, dressed as a farmer's wife, left the city in a wagon and spent the night in an army tent."
---The White House Cookbook, edited by Janet Halliday Ervin [Follett Publishing Company:Chicago IL] 1964 (p. 323)
[NOTE: Dolley Madison did have a spyglass but she was across the river at a friend's house, not on the White House roof.]?
Revisiting the story: a study of primary sources.
"The legendary Madison entertaining gave rise to the story that even when the British were descending on Washington, about to set it afire during the War of 1812, Dolley was in the midst of plans for a dinner party. An English writer, Gleig, said that the British troops arrive at the Executive Mansion and 'found a bountiful dinner spread for forty guests. This they concludes was for the American officers who were expected to return victorious from the field at Bladenburg.' One assumes that if the report is true, the British consumed the meal before plundering and burning the White House. While this is an intriguing story, there is nothing on record that substantiates it. The White House was burned August 24, 1814, and Dolley's letter of August 23 to her sister indicates that she had dozens of things on their mind--but not a dinner party. What perhaps gave currency to the feasting-while-the-capital-burns story was a book published in 1865 called A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison. The author was Paul Jenings, a slave of Madison's, and in the book he corroborated Gleig's report of the dinner. Jenings was there at the time and wrote: 'I set the table myself.' Still, he wrote many years after the incident had supposedly occurred, and memory in an old man plays tricks." ---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnall's:New York] 1968 (p. 83)
[NOTE: This information was also published in the book In and Out of the White House/Ona Griffin Jeffries [Wilfred Funk:New York] 1960 (p. 60, 62)
"To the delight and surprise of the hungry British soldiers, the dining table was loaded with viands choice enough to spread before a gourmet like the Prince Regent. It was laid out for a banquet of forty persons--a sizable dinner company even for entertainers like the Madisons. For the British home public the most amusing feature of the invasion was that the American President had ordered an elaborate dinner which he through to enjoy a at leisure with his friends and Army officers in celebration of the deliverance of the capital city. No doubt it was the merriment of the British which caused the banquet story to be denied so emphatically by American sources, including some of the members of Madison's staff, who refused to concede that the President's meal, prepared for cabinet members, dignitaries and generals, was eaten by privates of the wrong army. The first reference to the banquet was contained in a letter from a British midshipman published in a London newspaper. The historian of the 44th Regiment relates the story. Gleig adhered to it sixty-odd years later, after the various reasons why it was challenged were submitted to him. His description ran: 'Several kinds of wine, in handsome glass decanters, were cooling on the sideboard. Plate holders stood by the fireplace, filled with dishes and plates; knives, forks and spoons were arranged for immediate use; in short, everything was ready for the entertainment of a ceremonious party. In the kitchen spits loaded with joints of various sorts, turned before the fire. Pots, saucepans and other culinary utensils stood upon the grate, and all the other requisites for an elegant and substantial repast, were exactly in a state which indicated that they had been lately and precipitately abandoned. Jean P. Sioussa, a refugee of the French Revolution known around the President's house as 'French John,' formerly a retainer of the British minister, Anthony Merry, served as Madison's doorkeeper at the time of the invasion. He repudiated the entire banquet story. Nothing was in the kitchen when the British came, he asserted, except a little meat. One wonders that the matter has been considered of sufficient importance for all the inquires and denials, but controversies lead to re-examinants and conclusions. The British did, in fact, find a banquet awaiting for them. One of the enlightening accounts of what occurred at the President's house before the coming of the British has been supplied by Madison's body slave, Paul Jennings. In his pamphlet, A Colored man's Reminiscences of James Madison, Jennings tells how he had set the table on the afternoon of August 24 and had 'brought up the ale, cider, and wine, and placed them in coolers, as all the cabinet and several military gentlemen and strangers were expected.' Mrs. Madison had informed him that dinner would be ready at the regular hour of three, when the President, who ordinarily ate no supper, dined. The slave's account leaves no doubt that a large meal was in prospect, and that it was ordered by either the President or his wife. The question of who ordered it might have been answered had Admiral Cockburn preserved the trinkets and souvenirs he took from the executive palace. They included penciled notes Madison had written to Mrs. Madison from Bladensburg battlefield."
---Poltroons and Patriots: A Popular Account of the War of 1812, Glenn Tucker, Volume 2 [Bobbs-Merrill Company:Indianapolis IN] 1954 (p. 563-564)
? Mr. Jenning's own words
"Well, on the 24th of August, sure enough, the British reached Bladensburg, and the fight began between 11 and 12. Even that very morning General Armstrong assured Mrs. Madison there was no danger. The President, with General Armstrong, General Winder, Colonel Monroe, Richard Rush, Mr. Graham, Tench Ringgold, and Mr. Duvall, rode out on horseback to Bladensburg to see how things looked. Mrs. Madison ordered dinner to be ready at 3, as usual ; I set the table myself, and brought up the ale, cider, and wine, and placed them in the coolers, as all the Cabinet and several military gentlemen and strangers were expected."
---A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison, Paul Jennings 
[NOTE: No mention here of number of place settings, food, or kitchen cooking.]
White House History: Burning of the White House (64 pps)
...includes a copy of Dolley Madison's letter, with historical critique as to when it was written and accuracy.
Background from the White House, including links to selected primary documents, here
...includes primary documents from Jennings & Gleig.
What is the "real" truth?
Hard to say. In this case, primary documents/eyewitness accounts support different national agendas. Scholars generally agree that neither James or Dolley Madison were on White House (President's house) grounds the night of the fire. If a table was set for dinner (@3, the normal time for formal main meal of the day), it makes no sense it would be sizzling in the kitchen ready-to-go when the British torchers arrived at 11PM. Especially when the President & his wife were not at home. The story of finding the table set for 40 covers may be plausible because it might have been standard protocol at that time. The idea of ransacking arsonists sitting down to a nicely prepared feast before completing their assignment is a stretch. On the other hand, if food was out, hungry soldiers would have done a grab & go. The story of British soldiers consuming Madison's bar is very believable.
Need to make something for class? We recommend:
"Dolley Madison's Soft Gingerbread...Preserved in White House files, the recipe has been used by many another First Lady, right up to our day...
Beef drippings (or lard)
Mix 1 cup molasses (Dolley's "receipt" specified New Orleans molasses) with 2/3 cup fresh beef drippings. Add 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda disspoved in 1/4 cup hot water. Sift your dry ingredients: 2 1/4 cups flour, 4 teaspoons ginger, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Next pour 3/4 cup hot water which has almost reached the boiling point into the molasses mixture alternately with the flour mixture. Beat thoroughly with a rotary or electric beater. The dough should be soft enough to pour. Bake in a shallow, well-greased baking dish in a preheated medium (350 degrees F.) oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Delicious served warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar."
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 90)
"Cinnamon (Woodbury Cake)
...a Madison tea would often include Cinnamon Cake...
Cream 2 tablespoons butter with 1 cup sugar. Add 2 cups sifted flour mixed with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. Add milk and beat toghether thoroughly. Bake in a large pan at 350 degrees F. 20 to 30 minutes, or until done."
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 91)
"Dolley Madison's Layer Cake
...This recipe for layer cake was a Madison specialty, frequently served to guests...
Beat the whites of 8 eggs until stiff and in peaks. Put aside. Cream 1 cup butter with 2 1/2 cups sugar. Add 1 cup milk slowsly, mixing well. Add 3/4 cup cornstarch and 3 cups sifted flour to the butter-egg mixtuer. Mix well and add 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Fold in the egg whites carefully. Bake in 4 layer pans, well-greased. Bake in a medium (350 degrees F.) oven 30 to 35 minuts, or until the cake springs bak when touched lightly. Cool on racks and frost with Dolley Madison's Caramel
Mix well 3 cups brown sugar, 1 cup cream, and 2 tablespoons butter. Put mixture in the top of a double boiled and cook gently for 20 minutes. Just before removing from the stove, after the caramel has thickened, add 1 teaspoon vanilla, stir constantly. Remove and cool. Fill the layers of the cake and put icing on top as well."
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 89)
Did Dolley Madison start the Easter Egg Roll tradition?
Maybe. Maybe not. Popular American history generally credits Dolley Madison for initiating the Easter Egg roll/hunt in Washington D.C. Hillary Clinton's official statements (below) perpetuate the myth. Serious White House historians and several academic experts respectfully question the validity of this claim based on lack of primary evidence.
"One delightful piece of Dolleyania has defied accurate documentation to the day: the belief that it was Dolley who inaugurated the tradition of the annual White House Easter egg roll on Easter Monday. Neither Dolly nor any of her contemproaries mentions this event in any document located to date, but true or not, the tradition is now firmly attached to Dolley's White House years. Ethel Stephens Arnett, one of Dolley's more recent biographers, wrote that young John Payne Todd had heard that an egg hunt or roll had been practiced by the Egyptians and suggested that his mother adopt the game for him and his friends. "Dolley liked the idea," Arnett wrote, "and with her own hand tinted hundreds of hard-boiled eggs in bright colors, invited the children of the earea to come and play with them, and thus started the Easter Egg Hunt on the White House lawn. She is said by some to have started the tradition on the grounds of the Capitol. In the original version of the egg roll, children brought baskets of colored hard-boiled eggs and sat in long rows...White House historian, William Seale, researched the tradition and wrote that President Rutherford B. Hayes "had begun the tradition of rolling Easter Eggs on the White House lawn. This Easter Monday custom had originated at the Capitol many years before; now one remembering exactly when."
---Strength and Honor: The Life of Dolley Madison, Richard N. Cote (p. 362-363).
[NOTES: (1) this book is accessible via GoogleBooks; (2) the Arnett book is Mrs. James Madison; the Incomparable Dolley.]
"MRS. CLINTON: Well, I'm so glad to see all of you here. And this year we've done a few things a little differently to try to make it even better for all of you. You know, the very first Easter Egg Roll took place in 1809. Now, how many of you were here for that one? (Laughter.) Good. That was Dolly Madison who started it in 1809, and it used to be at the Capitol. And then it was moved here to the White House. And every year the Monday after Easter is when we do this."
James Monroe, like Thomas Jefferson, acquired a taste for French cuisine while serving abroad. His White House dinners reflected contemporary standards of elegant European tradition. Mr. Monroe is said to have loved this food. He also enjoyed dishes from his native Virginia.
"On the Monroe family plantation in Virginia...[Elizabeth Monroe] served many old Southern recipes, dishes her husband hand known from boyhood. One of the most famous, spoon bread, dates back to early Indian days...James Monroe, like his former teacher and mentor, Thomas Jefferson, was fond of Continental cuisines, but he was equally fond of the foods of his Virginia childhood...Chicken Fried with Rice...[was] used frequently by Elizabeth Monroe at the Monroe plantation, Oak Hill...Hot breads and biscuts were a way of life in James Monroe's Virginia... "
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon & Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 97-103)
What to make for class?
Monroe Family recipes. If you need more choice the Presidents' Cookbook offers Chicken Pudding, Chicken Fried with Rice, Tomatoes and Eggs, Spoon Bread, Cry Babies (molasses cookies), Sponge Cake, Chess Cakes (sweet cheese cakes),and Little Fine Cakes (aka sugar cookies). Monroe Family Recipes: Used At Ash Lawn-highland/Judith E. Kosik offers additional recipes. We have a copy & are delighted to share. Let us know which course you are serving. This booklet also contains a menu for James Monroe's 229th Birthday Celebration.
John Quincy Adams
"It is a matter of some curiosity that Adamas, with all his exposure to diverse European cuisines, showed so little interest in food. His culinary education had certainly been extensive...Yet throughout the Adamas diary rood references are sparse. Adams never failed to mention with whom he dined and how overn, but the contents of the meals obviously concerned him so little they were not worthy of comment...Adams was especially fond of fruit. The White House orchards flourished and eventually the apricot, plum, apple, and pear trees blossomed and bore fuit...[Adamas] retained a fondness for the plainer foods of his Massachusetts upbringing... As John Quincy Adamas himself was a curious mixture of the simple and the sophisticated, so were his food preferneces. One day he could say "Five or six small crackers and a glass of water give me a sumptuous dinner."... ---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon & Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 110-126)
[NOTE: Recipes offered up for JQ Adams are not noted as his favorites, but typical New England dishes of the day. They include Green Corn Pudding, Boston Baked Beans, and Black Walnut Cake.]
"Folks driving in downtown Jackson will be in for a surprise as characters dressed in 1800s costumes stroll along the street near The Carnegie Center for Arts and History and The Aeneas Building on Oct. 30. Then General Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel will arrive in a carriage. It's The Three Stars Collation & Frolicking Preview Party at The Aeneas Building that will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will recreate the historic evening of Sept. 18, 1825, when Jackson and his wife were wined and dined by the city's residents. Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek magazine, is honorary chairman. Chairwomen for the event are Roberta Price, Patty Lewis and May Scott. The evening's menu will include some of Jackson's favorites: Spiced round of tenderloin with mini biscuits and jezebel sauce; hot water corn cakes with caramelized onions & squash relish, roasted lamb chops with rosemary, hoppin' John, cheese and grapes, benne wafers, floating islands and mini-custard tarts....The exhibit curator is Dr. Larry Ray, an art historian specializing in the history of interiors and decorative arts. The collection comes from across Tennessee, including the Tennessee State Museum....But he also was a man who had a French chef and enjoyed French wines. He was as familiar with the fine art of cooking as he was with the fine art of hunting men in war. Gala co-chair Patty Lewis said the event will include fall decorations, "quilt tops, pumpkins of all varieties, mums and bittersweet. There will be four tablescapes. When you enter the Aeneas Building, you'll see an alcove on the back wall where a portrait of Andrew Jackson by Jordan Stonecipher will be unveiled and presented to the city. The exhibit at The Carnegie will be fabulous, and it's catalogued in a book created by Dr. Ray." The event will be a cocktail dinner and buffet with heavy hors d'oeuvres, "enough to be dinner," said Gena Mandle, caterer, who is preparing the meal. "We're recreating a lot of Jackson's favorites. We brainstormed about what would work and what wouldn't." "We also wanted a menu with items that fit together," said Lewis, "and feasible to serve to 250 people." She added that there will be an open bar and wine and beer for guests. Mandle said the floating islands will be lemon raspberry and chocolate mousse with creme anglais. She'll also offer Old Hickory Nut Soup in shot glasses for a taste and mini-trifles of gingerbread, pear and custard. Terry Ford of Lauderdale County, a long-time food historian, researched the menu. Ford has one of the nation's largest collections of cookbooks, some dating from the Middle Ages...."I have quite a large library, and I have presidents' cookbooks on a shelf. There are a lot of menus and recipes of the presidents. Andrew Jackson - a quite colorful fellow - liked a variety of things. He kept a horseshoe-shaped table in the state dining room. He had the finest china, silver and furniture for the East Room. People called him King Andrew because of the magnificence of his culinary banquets," Ford said. He liked leg of lamb and lamb chops, particularly with rosemary. The Hermitage had a lot of rabbits, and he was fond of that. He had a French chef. He was not so 'backwoodsy.' There were a lot of things at the White House, oysters on the half shell, blue points, primarily - and they had French wines. Rachel Jackson died of a heart attack Dec. 22 before Jackson's inauguration was held in January, so White House entertaining was handled by Emily Donelson, who became his hostess. Other foods Jackson enjoyed were "Leather Britches," which was green beans cooked with water and bacon, braised wild duck and wild goose and fried apple pies for snacks. "And he liked fried ham and ham gravy, oh yes," said Ford. "He had an Old Hickory nut soup - that was hickory nuts, hot water and sugar, pound it with a mortar and pestle and make a paste, add water to it, strain it, of course." The floating islands involved whipping up a meringue and having boiled custard underneath. "Sometimes you add sherry and almond flavoring to it and sometimes cake," he said. He liked to serve his White House guests Daniel Webster's punch, which included lemon, sugar, green tea, brandy, claret, champagne, bananas, orange pineapples, cherries and strawberries. "Anyone who drank this, one cup would do it," Ford chuckled. Ford said the preview party "is going to be very elaborate and will be quite an event in many ways - and it will be fun."
Non-stick vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
For the mousse:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup creme fraiche or whipping cream
creme anglaise 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, shaved
Meringue: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray six 1/2 cup muffin cups with oil spray. Whisk sugar and egg whites in a large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water, and whish egg-white mixture until thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160 degrees, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Using electric mixer, beat meringue until soft peaks form. Reserve 1/2 cup meringue in bowl. Cover and chill. Spoon remaining meringue into prepared muffin cups, dividing equally. Smooth tops with knife. Place muffin cups in large glass baking dish. Pour enough hot water into dish to come halfway up sides of muffin cups. Bake until meringue is set but still moist, about 25 minutes. Remove muffin cups from dish. Cool to room temperature. Cover; chill. Make mousse: Place 3 ounces chopped chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Let chocolate mixture stand at room temperature until cool to touch but not set, about 30 minutes. Beat creme fraiches in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold creme fraiche and reserved 1/2 cup meringue into chocolate mixture. Leaving meringue in each muffin cup, scoop out center of each meringue, forming cup with 1/2-inch-thick bottom and sides. Fill meringue cups with mousse. Cover and chill until set, at least 1 hour. Spoon creme anglaise onto plates. Run a small sharp knife around sides of meringue cups. Carefully turn meringues out. Place atop sauce. sprinkle shaved chocolate over. Garnish with berries. Note : Mandle's variation will offer lemon and raspberries.
- Menu created and prepared by Gena Mandle, caterer; based on selections submitted by Terry Ford, food historian."
SOURCE: Jackson Sun: http://m.jacksonsun.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081023/NEWS01/810230301/1002&template=wapart [NOTE: as of 1.4.2009, this article is no longer free from the newspaper.]
Martin Van Buren
"During Van Buren's many years in Washington before becoming President, he had acquired a reputation as a bon vivant and epicure. His table was always exquisitely prepared; food, wine, and service were impeccable...The simplicity of the first official New Year's reception and those that followed disappointed all the local fashionables...Although brought up with a natural Dutch frugality, Van Buren combined a taste for simple, hearty Dutch fare with a much more sophisticated taste than most of the natives of Kinderhook, New York, his birthplace...One visitor..commented on Van Buren's avoidance of sweets...The former preseident replied that he never ate pastries or puddings, preferring instead a little fruit. So saying, he ate an apple...When Van Buren was appointed Minister to England by Andrew Jackson, he developed a fondness for many English...dishes, particularly those of the Christmas season...Boar's head cecame a Van Buren favorite...Van Buren, like Dutchmen of his day, was extremely fond of oysters...
Need to make something for class? We suggest...
Dutch Apple Cake
Fond as President Van Buren was of apples in any form...
Mix together 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 egg. Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups sifted flour, and 2 teaspoons baking pwder. Peel and slice several tart apples. Spread the dough into a round greased baking dish. Place the apples in rows on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake in a moderate overn (350 degrees F.) oven about 35 minutes."
---President's Cookbook (p. 158)
William Henry Harrison
"...Harrison's Presidency lasted a single month, too short a time to provide a real clue as who what might have been, culinarily speaking...One thing is certain...he did enjoy food and took pleasure in selecting tidbits for his family table. One of his frist expressed wishes regarding the social side of his Presidency was to do his own marketing for the White House table. And market he did...The custom of plying potential voters with food and drink was practiced by politicians from Washington's day onwards. But it reached its zenith...in the campaign of 1840, when Harrison lieutenants wined and dined the populace throughout the West....all eligible makes were [treated] to a feast of cornbread, cheese, and hard cider. Little by little the feasts became more elaborate...Burgoo [squirrel & vegetable stew]...was the perfect election dish, as it was easily expandable to the size of the crowd...During Harrion's campaign for the Presidency, the hard [alcoholic] cider flowed so freely...that Harrison became known as the Hard Cider Candidate."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon & Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 162-166)
"A letter...refers to Harrison's old gardener, who had been asked to come and live in Vincennes. The importance of the gardener evidently arose from Mr. Harrison's love of fresh vegetables. When he went to Bogota in the 1830's as United States Minister, he wrote home: 'I have a very excellent garden, beans, peas, cabbages, cauliflower, celery and artichokes in abundance, and we shall soon have beets.'..."
---The First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States, Margaret Brown Klapthor [Parents Magazine:New York] 1982 edition (p. 121-123) (p. 73-33)
Need to bring something to class?
Tough assignment. Original Burgoo (squirrel stew) is probably not an option. We suggest you bring regular (non-alcoholic) apple cider. Use this beverage to highlight the key accomplishments of the "Hard Cider Candidate." When you're finished, ask the class to raise a toast in Mr. Harrison's honor.
"The Tyler Presidency is an illustration of the feminine influence on a social system. Socially speaking, there were two Tyler administrations. The first began with the death of William Henry Harrison...At [Tyler's] side was his wife, Letitia...Both Tylers were unceremonious, hospitable Virginians...The following year Letitia Tyler died. But the informal note struck at the beginning of Tyler's term of office remained...John Tyler lived in Washington as he had in Virginia. He even brought to the White House the same slaves who had cared for his family in Williamsburg...For two years Tyler lived simply and comforatably at the Whtie House. His daughter, Letitia Semple, one of his seven children described their life in the Presidential house: "We breakfasted at eight-thirty and dined at three o'clock, except on state occasions...and had tea served after our daily cares and duties, because my father's time was rarely his own..."...There were many parties given during the holiday season for Washington officialdom. Always the tables were laden with substantial and varied foods...No one foresaw, in that winter of 1843, that the newly arrived beauty on the Washington social scene, Julia Gardiner, would within a short time be the arbiter of the city's taste and style...As soon as the word was out, the newspapers began feeding elaborate detail of the wedding feast to avid readers...The wedding supper was described in deatil: "Cold woodcock, pigeons, chicken salad, oysters prepared in various ways, but no wines, this being strictly forbidden by the bridegroom and assented to by the bride...Breakfast appears to have been even mroe elaborate. Omelets, spring chicken, pigeons and woodcock, ham and eggs, salmon, beefsteaks, kidneys boiled eggs, and young duck......With only eight months left of Tyler's term of office, Julia decided to make the most of it. Accustomed to the flourishes of high society in Europe, she set about duplicating some the the pageantry she had witnessed there...... Roast ham, a saddle of venison or some other heavy roast, roast wild ducks, or other poultry all were in evidence. Enormous supplies of home-baked cakes and pudding were on hand. Puddings were a great Tyler favorite. Punch, Madeira [a type of wine], and the ubiquitous champagne were ready."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 167-171) [NOTE: this book contains several recipes in the Tyler chapter, these two puddings among them.]
Of all our Presidents, John Tyler had the most children--seven by his first wife, seven by his second, for a grand total of fourteen. No wonder pudding was a popular dessert at the Tyler table. This modified pudding-in-piecrust was a particular favorite of the family.
Fresh coconut, grated
Unbaked puff pastry
Cream 1/2 cup butter with 6 cups sugar. Then add 6 well-beaten eggs, along with 1 cup heavy cream and 1 grated coconut. Mix well, and then pour into 4 pie pans lined with puff pastry. Bake in a hot (450 degrees F.) Oven for 10 minutes, until pastry sets. The reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. And cook another 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pudding-pie is firm. Makes 16 servings."
---ibid (p. 177)
"A Grateful Pudding
...A special favorite was this Grateful pudding, and old English pudding similar to bread pudding but with considerable flour and raisins and currants added.
Milk or cream
Grate a 1 pound loaf of white bread and add to it 1 pound flour. Beat 8 egg yolks and 4 egg whites until light and mix them with 1 pint cream (much better than milk, if available). Stir in the bread-flour mixture. Mix well. Add 1 pound seedless raisins, 1 pound currants, 1/2 pound sugar, and a dash of ground ginger. Mix thoroughly, pour into a greased baking dish, and bake in a moderate (350 degrees F.) Oven. Cook until it sets, about 1/2 hour. Serves 8."
---ibid (p. 177-8)
"Simple, hearty coutnry fare was what pleased James Polk most...His diet was the unadorned frontier diet of the South, without the... extras of genteel Southern cuisine...It was pain ham that Polk craved when he was being inundated with Creole specialties and delicate French succluents in New Orleans...Corn Pone...was a favorite mainstay with him...A dish such as [Tomato Omelette] was espcially pleasing to [Polk's] palate..."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 182-188)
What to make for class?
Sift 2 cups (white)cornmeal with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Work 4 tablespoons shortening (or lard) into the dry ingredients. Blend well. Add 3/4 cup boiling water and continue blending. Slowly add 1/2 cup buttermilk until a soft dough is formed. The buttermilk should be added very slowly, making sure the dough retains enough consistencey to e molded into small flat cakes. Grease a skillet, heat it, then place the cakes in it and bake them in a preheated medium-hot (350 degrees F.) oven for 1/2 hour or 40 minutes, until lightly browned and done. Makes approximately 12."
---President's Cookbook, (p. 185-186)
"...[Taylor] was much concerned with what he ate...His familiarity with Louisiana gave him firsthand knowledge of Creole cooking, and he became enamored of its variety and richness...Taylor would accept plain fare without complaint, but he did insist that it be decently cooked and well served..."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 189-201)
Need to make something for class? These classic Creole doughnut-type foods are perfect! Be sure to give yourself enough time.
These delicious little cakes are great favorites in New Orelans with morning coffee, as indeed they were in the days of Zachary taylor. Well acquainted with the Creole delicacies, he brought them back to Washington with him...
Dissolve 1 yeast cake in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. When dissolved, stir into 2 cups cooked rice. Let rise overnight. Next morning, beat 2 eggs until light and lemony, add 4 tablespoons salt. Combine mixture and blend in 4 cups flour. Let dough rise 1 hour. Drop by tablespoons into deep fat that has been heated to a medium-hot temperature (360 degrees F.). Fry until browned lightly. Drain and serve piping hot, either with cane syrup or sprinkled with powdered sugar. Excellent either way. Makes 50 fritters."
---President's Cookbook, (p. 192-193)
Mr. Filmore is credited for modernizing the White House. Under his administration, the first iron cookstove was installed. Prior to this time, all cooking was still conducted colonial-style, with open hearth. These modernizations were not immediately embraced by his staff.
"We would like to be able to say that Fillmore's single-minded efforts on behalf of the Excecutive Mansion's new stove were merely indicative of his zest for fine food, his appreciation for gourmet repast, his adventurous eating habits. Alas...He had little time for frivolity or luxuries, in dress or food,...By the time he was president, his life patterns were established. Plain food, prepared in a simple, farm style, as part of the pattern...Meat, potatoes, and vegetables were the ingredients of life for the Fillmores...Corn Pudding...has been a favorite dish of simple eaters such as the Fillmores as well as of White House gourmets...To...Millard Fillmore, it was natural that a good hearty soup would often serve as a full meal...Soup to a New York farm family such as Fillmore's was more of a stew of meat, potatoes, and vegetables; when ready to serve, the solids were removed from the soup kettle to a platter. The soup was served, consumed, then the soup bowls filled with the meat and vegetables from the platter. No sense in wasting time or dishes...Resurrecction Pie...recipe came orginally from the North County of England, home of Fillmore's family...Made by the Englsih settlers in New York State, beef or pork liver and cuts similar to round steak were used..."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 202-208)
Franklin Pierce was not noted for his fondness of food. Family entertaining was non-existant. State dinners were not considered "up to par" by Washington's high society.
"...Pierce...was said to be 'quiet in his tastes.' Preferences for the solid, traditional fare of his native New Hampshire were strong in him. The good, hearty, often quite inventive dishes of midcentruy New Hampshire found favor with this native son...
---Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 212)
[NOTE: Pierce recipes include White Mountain Rolls, Fried Clams or Fannie Daddies, Daniel Webster's Chowder, Sparking' Pie, Apple Pan Dowdy, and New Hampshire (benne/sesame) Seed Cookies.]
"New Hampshire Fried Pies
This regional specialty was as much a favorite wtih the Pierce family as the state's ubiquitous maple syrup...
Allow 1 quart dried apples to soak in cold water oernight for 5 to 6 hours. Drain, put into a saucepan, cook, with just enough water to keep from burning, into a thick applesauce. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon nutmeg. Set aside. make a pie crust of 1/2 cup butter or other shortening, 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Dough should be firm and have body. Roll it out and cut it into pieces seach as wide as a butter plate. Beat 2 eggs into the applesauce and place 4 tablespoons applesauce in the center of each crust portion. Fold the dough over (like a turnover) and press the edges firmly. Bring deep fat to heat in a deep kettle. Drop the pies into the boiling fat (360 degrees F.) and cook 4 to 5 minutes, turning so the whole pie is well rowned. Best served hot, but may be reheated. Makes 16 pies."
---ibid (p. 215) [NOTE: boiling fat is very dangerous. Adult supervision is strongly recommended.]
President Buchanan loved to entertain in grand European style. Like Thomas Jefferson, he was fond of French cuisine. He also delighted in Pennsylvania Dutch (German) fare. Below please find historic notes and selected recipes:
"With the election of President James Buchanan, our only unmarried president, the Capital began the gayest social season in its history. The man in the White House was wealthy, an epicurean, a...bachelor with a flair for society and impeccable knowledge of its ways. The First lady was to be his niece, Miss Harriet Lane, a lovely young lady of twenty-five who had been well prepared and trained for her exciting new role...The White House receptions again became gorgeous displays of finery...Buchanan was so particular about the quality of his food that he had fresh butter sent him regularly from Philadelphia in a locked brass-bound kettle."
---The First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States, Margaret Brown Klapthor [Parents Magazine Enterprises:New York]1982 revised edition (p. 104-105)
[NOTE: Recipes included in this book: Pennsylvania Dutch Stuffed Shoulder of Pork, Mashed Potatoes, Gooseberry Tart, & Cinnamon Apples.]
"For a brief moment before the storm of war--the four years before the Civil War--gaiety returned in full force to the White House, after four administrations of deprivation...Buchanan...had had wide exposure to European manners and had developed a certain partiality for French cuisine. He liked the formal elegance of European socitey...The President did not stint on entertaining. For elaborate dinners and receptions he called on the services of Gautier, a French caterer. Gautier had a reputation for the beauty and finesse of his service and preparations as well as the superb quality of his cooking. Gourmets exclaimed over the partridge, terrapin, oysters, lobster, and wild turkey served under his supervision...Frequently, Buchanan was forced to pay the bills for his lavish dinners and receptions out of his own pocket. In spite his innate formality, he did not mind this, for he enjoyed entertaining and wanted to do it well. The biggest social event of Buchanan's four years was surely the visit of England's Prince of Wales to Washington...This was the first visit to the former American colonies of an heir-apparent to the British throne...Two lavish dinner parties were held for the Crown Prince...[at Buchanan's inaugural ball, March 4, 1857]...The five thousand revelers were served eight rounds of beef, seventy-five hams, sixty saddles of mutton, four saddles of venison, four hundred gallons of oysters, five quarts of jellies, twelve hundred quarts of ice cream in assorted flavors, and pates of infinate variety. Three thousand dollars had been spent on the wines. And the high point of the evening was a pyramid of a cake, four feet high and cleverly ornamented with a flag bearing the insignia of every state in the Union...Olympian as this all was, it was still but a hint of the gargantuan banquets of the administration to come. One might think that such quantiites of food would be enough for several armies, but the food actually ran out before the guests had completely given up...Those critics who may have objected to Buchanan's adherence to a formal etiquette had no complaint about the bounty of his service. His dinners were generally "pronounced superb in manner and style." The presidential routine was simpler than his entertaining patterns. He normally rose early, and had an early breakfast, read the newspaper and was buisily at work at his desk by eight o'clock. At five in the afternoon, a brisk your's walk gave him a good appetite for the elaborate dinner that usually followed. Dinner was almost always at the White House...One day a week, some of the cabinet members and their wives were invited to have dinner at the White House en famille [together as a family]....Although not of German stock, President Buchanan enjoyed the specialties prepared by the Pennsylvania Dutch inhabitants of his native state."
---Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 220-224)
[NOTE: Recipes included: Terrapin a la Gautier (turtle soup), Boiled Lobster, Calf's Head Dressed as Terrapin, Pannhas (Scrapple), Sauerbraten, Chicken Salad, Duck un Kraut, Pennsylavnia Dutch Succotash, Pennsylania Red Cabbage, Jeff Davis Pie, Confederate Pudding, Confederate Sauce, Moss Rose Cake, Peach Charlotte, Charlotte Russe, Apees & Muscadine (grape) Pie.]
Need to make something for class?
Pennsylvania-born-and-bred Buchanan was no Confederate...but he did enjoy some of the rich and elegant desserts for which the South was justly famous...
Jelly or Jam
Slice homemade-type bread extra thin. Butter 12 slices well and cover with jelly or jam of your choice. Butter a glass baking dish and fill it with the bread. Pour over the bread 1 pint milk, mixed well with 2 beaten eggs. Allow to stand until the milk-egg mixture has soaked the bread thoroughly. Bake in a medium-low (325 degrees F.) oven untl the pudding is firm. Serve lukewarm with Confederate Pudding Sauce. Serves 6.
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 227-228)
"Moss Rose Cake.
This mid-century favorite coldn't help pleasing President Buchanan, who liked the subtle flavor of almond in many dishes.
Beat together 2 cups sugar with 4 eggs for 12 minutes. Heat 1 cup milk to the boiling point, then add 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring and set aside. Stir 2 cups sifted cake flour into the egg-sugar mixture. Slowly add the warm scalded milk. Beat vigorously for 3 minutes, or until all ingredients are well mixed. Grease and flour two layer-cake pans. Pour mixture into the pans evenly. Bake in a moderate (375 degrees F.) oven 20-25 minutes. Delicious as is, with vanilla ice cream, or with a coconut-orange frosting."
---ibid (p. 228)
...it is certain that [these cookies] were much enjoyed by Pennsylvanians such as James Buchanan...
Blend 3/4 cup flour with 1/2 pound butter, cutting the butter into the flour carefully as you would with pie dough. Gradually add 1/2 pound sugar and 1 teaspoon nutmeg. Mix well, and stir in a little milk gradually, using only enough to make a firm dough...Knead the dough, roll it into sheets, and cut into designs with a cooky cutter. Butter a cooky sheet, place the cookies on them far enough apart to prevent touching. Bake in a medium (350 degrees F.) oven until very lightly browned. Makes 48."
---ibid (p. 229-230)
"During several years of collecting material for The Presidents'Cookbook...we ran into all sorts of controversey concerning President Lincoln's habits, his likes and dislikes, when it came to food. Judging from menus of the state balls and banquets given at the White House during Lincoln's Administration--some of the most elaborate in our history--one might conclude that Honest Abe was a gourmet to end all gourmets. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Giving the opposite side of the picture, certain observers of the times...said flatly that Lincoln was almost entierely indifferent to food, 'Except that he liked apples and hot coffee.' The President's bodyguard wrote, however, 'Mr. Lincoln was a hearty eater. Her never lost his tates for things that a growing farmer's boy would like. He was particularly fond of bacon.' Probably like most of our strongest Presidents (excepting Jefferson), Lincoln relied on food to feed the furnace. Undoubtedly he ate well when served a tasty meal but was usually so preoccupied that he gave little thought to food. One thing seems certain: hew was a gentle man at the table and uncritical. His stepmother said, 'He ate what was before him, making no complaint.' A companion of his lawyer days, Leonard Sweet, wrote, 'I never in the 10 years of circuit life I knew him heard him complain of a hard bed or a bad meal of victuals."
---"Fast Gourmet: Honest Abe's favorite Food," Poppy Cannon, Chicago Daily Defender, February 8, 1968 (p. 22)
"Just as so much about [Abraham Lincoln's] life has been shrouded in latter-day myth and legend, making it difficult to assess the truth about the man, so, too, have his food habits and tastes been the subject of controversy...It seems to us that the food truth about Lincoln must lie somewhere between these extreme points of view...One aspect of Abraham Lincoln's characteristically gentle nature was apparent in his approach to food... Temprementally...Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln were totally unlike...This was striking apparent when it came to food and food history. Although both came originally from Kentucky, they reflected two completely different Kentucky traditions. Mary had been raised in the lush bluegrass region of the state, where gracious, comfortable living and rich, elaborate cooking were legendary. Abe gew up on the frontier, where he ate very plain food, partly for economic reasons, partly because of the frontier tradition. Corn dodgers, cakes made of coarse cornmeal, were a staple. Wild game provided the protein a growing boy needed. During the days of young manhood, where he boarded at the Rutledge Tavern in New Salem, his diet consisted largely of cornbread, mush, bacon, eggs, and milk. Several friends of that period recalled later that if Abe was partial to any one food it was honey, a great delicacy for him at the time."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnall's:New York] 1968 (p. 236-7)
"Family meals at the Lincolns' were routine. Early in the morning the President liked a "good hot cup of coffee." But often he would forget about breakfast until 9 or 10A.M. John Hay, one of Lincoln's privage secretaries, occasionally ate with the President. He noted that the frugal repast might consist of "an egg, a piece of toast, coffee, etc." On occasion breakfast was a single egg. For lunch, Hay reported, Lincoln "took a little lunch--a biscuit, a glass of milk in winter, some fruit or grapes in summer...He ate less than anyone I know." Lunch was usually eaten irregularly..."
---ibid (p. 239)
[NOTE: This book contains modernized recipes for Lincoln's favorite foods: Nob Creek Kentucky Corn Cakes, Rail Splitters (corn muffins), Nancy Hanks' Steamed Potatoes, Rutledge Tavern Squash Pie, New Salem Fruit Pies, Gooseberry Cobbler etc. Happy to scan/send.]
"Abraham Lincoln dined in a spartan fashion...He would rather nibble fruit. His wife Mary tried everything to make Abe eat but has frustrated time and time again to see the finest foods left all but untouched on his plate. One of the few entrees that would tempt Lincoln was Chicken Fricassee. He liked the chicken cut up in small pieces, fried with seasonings of nutmeg and mace and served with a gravy made of the chicken drippings. Mary Lincoln set a table at the White House, which included such food as Aspic of Tongue, Pate de Foie Gras, Turkey stuffed with Truffles, and all sorts of wild game, such as venison, pheasant, or canvasback duck. But all too often the President merely picked at his food." ---A Treasury of White House Cooking, Francois Rysavy [G. P. Putnam:New York] 1972 (p. 250)
The gingerbread story, retold by Carl Sandburg:
"The 'gingerbread story,' which [Lincoln] had mentioned without telling, in one of the debates with Douglas, touched yound and old....'When we lived in Indiana,' he said, 'once in a while my mother used to get some sorghum and ginger and make some gingerbread. It wasn't often, and it was our biggest treat. One day I smelled the gingerbread and came into the house to get my share while it was still hot. My mother had baked me three gingerbread men. I took them out under a hickory tree to eat them. There was a family near us poorer than we were, and their boy came along as I sat down. 'Abe,' he said, 'gimme a man?' I gave him one. He crammed it into his mouth in two bites and looked at me while I was biting the legs off my first one. 'Abe,' he said, 'timme the onter'n.' I said to him, 'You seem to like gingerbread.' 'Abe,' he sais, 'I don't s'pose anybody on earth likes gingerbread better'n I do--and gets less'n I do.'"
---Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, Carl Sandburg [Harcourt, Brace:New York] 1926, Volume 2, (p. 290)
What kind of cook was Mary Todd Lincoln?
Mary Todd Lincoln was born to a wealthy family in Lexington Kentucky. As such, she was well schooled in the fine aspects of social etiquette rather than the practical arts of domestic life. Her biographers note Mary's early frugality and preference for simplicity. Her entertainments were well attended and, as one might expect, grew lavish in the White House period. She was especially fond of strawberries, and enjoyed giving biographies strawberry sociables, where these fine fruits were combined with cake and ice cream.
"By the 1840s improved methods of salting and icing allowed Mary Lincoln to keep food longer than her mother could. Imported oysters, a delicacy on local menus, could be preserved for weeks by bountiful washing in salted water and some help from the weather. A few heretics (Mary Lincoln was not usually one of them) no longer baked bread, depending, instead, on a wagon that delivered bread, crackers, and cakes three times a week. The Springfiled stores were beginning to sell prepared butter, and in season local farmers brought vegetables and fruits down Jackson Street for the unfixed prices that proper ladies were not supposed to contest. Penny-pinching Mary Lincoln was among those who violated the prescription that ladies don't beat down prices, and she had several public battles with the fruit peddler over the prices of his less than perfect strawberries...Lincoln was never a fussy eater, and was satisfied most mornings with an apple for his breakfast. Still, he would be home for dinner in the middle of the day, and only delinquent housekeepers kept men waiting. But in Mary Lincoln's home it was the husband whose casual sense of time and lack of appetite made regular hours an impossibility...Sometimes Abraham helped out by shopping...Even with improved technology and help with marketing, cooking took up the largest part of Mary Lincoln's day. Some Springfield women relished their culinary labors and earned awards at the country fair for their pickles, preserves, cakes and pies...Mary never entered those competitions, or at least she never won a prize. The one household product for which she was remembered--what the family circulated as Mary's recipe for white cake--was a simplified gloss on the more complicated version of a standard cake...Having grown up without practical experience in cooking, Mary relied on Kentucky staples. Years later, amid the haute cuisine of France, she fondly remembered the "waffles, batter cakes, and egg cornbread--not to mention "buckwheat cakes" of Lexington. The Lincoln menu was also full of what Mrs. Trollope disparaged as America's "sempiternal ham," and Mary Lincoln's frugality encouraged the appearance of cheap local game, such as woodchucks, pheasants, and prairie chickens. In any case, she learned to do what the slaves had done in Lexington: roast coffee, make calf's-foot jelly, preserve fruit, and prepare cheese. In the summer the kitchen ran her, and it was both the repetitiveness and the lack of control that led disaffected matrons to compare themselves to slaves...By 1851, after nearly ten years of housekeeping, Mary Lincoln had progressed to an advanced version of Miss Leslie's Cookery, purchasing this, along with Miss Leslie's House Book or Manual of Domestic Economy for Town and Country...In the more difficutlt version there were recipes for everything from family soup to to invalid cookery of beef tea and blackberry preserve...Because she had not learned the vices of sugar and, like everyone in Springfield, innocently belived it the "most nourishing substance in nature," she spent hours making puddings, cakes, candies, and cookies. By modern standards, the Lincoln household consumed a vast amount of sugar...Some of these sweets were eaten by others, for if Mary Lincoln was a novice cook, she was a practiced hostess with an easy charm that obscured any shortcomings in her menus. Her contemporary Julia Jayne Trumbull acknowledged her as the "prettiest talker in Springfield,"..."Mary Lincoln often entertained small numbers of friends at dinner and somewhat larger numbers at evening parties. Her table was famed for the excellence of its rare Kentucky dishes and in season was loaded with venison, wild turkeys, prairie chickens and quail and other game"...In her kitchen at Eighth and Jackson Mary Lincoln relied on simple fare, offering her guests not four courses but tea and cakes and strawberries in season. "This last week, we gave a strawberry company of about seventy," she wrote in 1859. "If your health will admit of venturing out, in such damp weather," went one Mary Lincoln invitation, "we would be much pleased to have you, Mr. B., and the young ladies came round, this eve about seven and pass a social evening." By seven Mason and Mary Brayman would have eaten their middle-of-the-day dinner as well as their supper, leaving the hostess responsible only for dessert. Unlike some of her friends and family, Mary Lincoln did not use her cooking for charitable purposes...though she often invited friends from the...church for tea and cakes...By the mid-1850s Lincoln's prominence required substantial entertainments, and with money available from his successful law practice, Mary Lincoln hosted large receptions--what in the East passed a levees. On the prairies, as elsewhere, French was the language of sociability, used by Mary and her friends to distinguish their grandest affairs from the even more elegant soirees or "grand fetes,"..Instead, she simply put food on the table, and the crowds poured into the house to eat it..."
---Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography, Jean H. Baker [W.W. Norton:New York] 1987 (p. 109-113)
[NOTE: Miss Leslie's 75 Recipes for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats  is online.]
Need to make something for class?
- The Presidents Cookbook/Poppy Cannon
...modernized recipes "doable" for elementary & secondary school students
- First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of all the Presidents of the United States/Margaret Brown Klapthor
...offers general notes on Lincoln-style entertaining, and photos of Lincoln's china/glassware, but no notes on foods or menus. Recipes for Fricasseed Chicken, White Fracassee of Chicken, Scalloped Oysters and Election Cake are included.
- Mary Todd Lincoln's Courting Cake
- The Kentucky Housewife/Lettice Bryan 
...this historic cookbook has been reprinted recently by Image Graphics, Paducah, Kentucky. Your librarian can help you obtain a copy. Please note: most of these recipes are not simple "frontier" food. They are most likely the foods enjoyed by Mrs. Lincoln's family.
"Mary Todd's Courting Cake
"Several of Lincoln's biographers mention the burnt sugar cake Mary Todd prepared for him when he came courting. Many recipes purport to be Mary's own. This one...can actually be traced down through the Todd family to Mary Hosford, a granddaughter of one of Mary's cousins, who included it in her Missouri Traveler Cookbook. [FT Editor Note: This recipe appears on in a chapter titled "Jane," p. 16-19 of The Missouri Traveler Cookbook. "Jane" is an African-American cook. Ms. Hosford states the recipe is "Jane's," She does not mention Mary Todd Lincoln anywhere in in the book, which strikes us as odd since the book is liberally sprinkled with family ("Grandma Hebel") and celebrity references (Tommy Dorsey).]
Caramelized sugar syrup
One begins by 'burning' the sugar. Melt 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy iron skillet. Heat slowly, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until the sugar becomes a very dark brown. Then add 1/2 cup hot water and stir until sugar dissolves. This is the caramelized sugar you will use in the cake. Now beat 3 egg whites until very stiff, adding to them a little ast a time 1/2 cup white sugar. Set aside. In another bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter with 1/2 cup white sugar. Add 2 teaspoons baking powder to 1 1/2 cups cake flour, along with a dash of salt. Sift together then add to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating with the caramelized sugar syrup--first a little flour, then a little syrup, until all have been used. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Flavor with 1 teaspoon vanilla and bake in 2 greased and floured 8-inch cake pans. Bake about 45 minutes in a preheated moderate (350 degree F.) oven.
Frosting for Mary Todd's Courting Cake
Dark brown sugar
Black walnuts (optional)
Melt 1/2 cup butter in a heavy saucepan. Add 1 cup dark brown sugar and cook over low heat for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, add 1/3 cup milk and bring to a boil again. Cool to lukewarm and stir in gradually 2 cups powdered sugar. Beat vigorously until mixture is smooth. This makes enough frosting to cover the top and sides of an 8-inch layer cake. If you like, even though it isn't strictly authentic, sprinkle black walnuts over the frosting. Delicious even if not Toddian.
Mary Todd's Vanilla Almond Cake
There are reports attributable to President Lincoln that this cake of his wife's was the best he ever ate...This delicious cake was the invention of Monsieur Giron, a Lexington [KY] caterer, who created it in honor of the visit to that city in 1825 of his fellow Frenchman, Lafayette. The Todd family acquired the recipe and cherished it ever after. The baking powder must have been added at a later date.
Vanilla (or almond extract)
Cream together 2 cups sugar with 1 cup butter. Sift 3 cups flour and 3 teaspoons baking powder three times and add to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with 1 cup milk. Chop 1 cup blanched almonds until very fine and add them to the mixture. Beat vigorously, then fold in 6 stiffly beaten egg whites carefully. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, then fold in 6 stiffly beaten egg whites carefully. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla (almond extract if you prefer) and pour the mixture into a greased and floured angel-cake pan. Bake in a a preheated moderate (350 degree F.) oven for approximately 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake's center. Turn the cake out on a wire rack and allow to cool before frosting it. This makes a very large cake. If you prefer, you can bake it in 2 9-inch layer-cake pans. The cake may be made without the almonds and is a splendid plain white cake, very light and good.
Mary Todd's Candied Fruit Frosting
Vanilla (or almond extract)
Beat 2 egg whites until very stiff. Set aside for a moment. Beat together 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water until the syrup spins a thread about five inches long. Then slowly fold into the egg whites, a spoonful at a time, very slowly, beating well with an electric beater as you add. Beat at top speed (very hard if you use a hand beater) until all the syrup is used and the mixture forms peaks when dropped from a spoon. When stiff, slowly add 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Fold into the mixture 1/2 cup diced candied pineapple and 1/2 cup crystallized cherries cut in half. Spread between the layers and over the top and sides of the vanilla almond cake. If desired, the candied fruit may be eliminated. The frosting is delicious without them."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 256-258)
Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration supper: an eyewitness account
Abraham Lincoln's second Inauguration was recounted in several magazines and newspapers by a variety of reporters. The New York Times reporter was not named. Just noted as "Special Correspondence." We wonder who he (or she) was? Clearly, the meal was a disaster.
"The Supper. It had been rumored--and the foundation for the report was only rumor--that the supper was to be something extraordinary. We were suprised at this, because we knew good taste and modern custom, in small places like New-York, have, of late years, literally eschewed the practice of immense suppers at public balls; and this reform had been reconcilated by the fact that such attempts had generally ended in catastrophes to the toilets and tempers of all participants. It was, therefore, with misgivings that we saw it announced that a grand supper would be served in one of the corridors of the extensive building. The American people, in general, we are ashamed to say, have not yet learned how to behave at table; and that species of etiquette, not too prevalent in private, is certainly always absent at public suppers. So it was not strange that we should have had warning visions of a grand rush, then a crush, and a demolition in the twinkling of an eye of all th confectioner's handiwork, the frantic snatching of viands from the tables, the brandishing aloft of wine cup, and plate, and cutlery, laden with article alike dangerous to toilet and stomach; of munching and crunching sans ceremonie; of defilement and ruin to precious apparel, the result perhaps of weeks of the dressmaker's effort; of the loss of temper, and loud cries of complaint. And indeed, we harbored a fear as a consequence that a graceful assemblage of dignified ladies and gentlemen might be transformed, as if by the wand of some evil spirit, into a social raffle, where he who was rudest should be most successful in appeasing the cravings of the appetite, and in pocketing the delicate ornamentations of the table.
"The name of the cuisiner has escaped us, and it is not worth while to hand it up now. Suffice it to say it was not Delmonico, therefore we did not expect perfection. The hall set apart for supper was the grand corridor in the west wing. The table was set in the centre, and it gave standing-room for about three hundred persons one time. The cabinets of the works of genius and invention, placed at intervals, served to form alcoves on each side of the supper-table. On one side, some of these were provided with seats; on the other, they were reserved for depositing the extraordinary quantity of material necessary for such a host, and for the operations of the waiters.
"The ornamentation of the table, though limited in extent, was in excellent taste, and perhaps quite as profuse os the unfortunately small space devoted to the supper would permit. There were three leading and conspicuous pieces form the confectioner's hands, placed at approprote points in the centre and at each end of the table; in the centre, our imposing Capitol--perfect in minature; at one end an exquisite representation of the heroic deeds of the gallant army; at the other, a similar device of the proud achievements of the navy. The representation of the Capitol was admirably executed; no detail seemed to be too minute for imitation. Even the lamps at the entrance seemed to give forth light. The columns, pedastals, cornices, frieses, entablatures, windows, situary, and the majectis dome, and towering above all else, the Goddess of Liberty, were all there as perfect as mould and model could make them. In addition, there were several allegorical representations of the progress of civilization, the genius, the arts, the sciences and literature of the day. The piece on the right was in honor of the army; and the glory and fame of the defenders of our liberty were illustrated by a pyramid, around which were clustered in tasteful profusion all the insignia of war, the paraphernalia of battle and the emblem of victory. The navy was honored in the same manner, the representation being surmounted with Admiral Farragut's old flagship Hartford, gallantly riding the withe crested waves, while aloft might be seen the Admiral himself lashed to the rigging, emblematical of the old hero's achievements in the Bay of Mobile; then battered Fort Sumter, the sad epitome of secession; then Neptune with chariot and trident, and the Goddess of Liberty, inspiring the brave sailor to greater glory and higher fame. There were other ornamentations, principally pyramids of which the detail is unimportant, for nougats, croquant, and chocolate are the same here as elsewhere. The bill of fare provided a select and tasteful variety, and no better idea of it can be obtained than by inserting it right here verbatim.
Bill of Fare.
Oyster stews, terrapin stews, oysters pickled; beef--roast beef, filet of beef, beef a la mode, beef a l'anglais; veal--leg of veal, fricandeau, veal Malakoff; poultry--roast turkey, boned turkey, roast chicken; grouse--boned and roast; game--pheasant, quuail, venison, patetes, patetes of duck en gelee, pate de fois gras; smoked ham, tongue en gelee, tongue plain; salades, chicken, lobster; ornamental pyramids--nougate, orange, caramel with vany cream candy, coconut, macaroon, croquant, chocolate; three cakes--cakes and tarts, almond soonge, belle alliance, dame blanche, macaroon tart, tart a la Nelson, tarte a l'Orleans, tarte a la Portuguese, tarte a la Vienne, pound cake, sponge cake, lady cake, fancy small cakes; jellies and creams--calf's foot and wine jelly, Charlotte a la Russe, Charlotte a la vanilla blanc mange, creme Neapolitiane, creme a la Nelson, creme Chateaubrand, creme a la Smyrna, crreme a la Nesslefored, bombe a la vanilla, ice cream, vanilla, lemon, white coffee, chocolate, burnt almonds, maraschino, fruit ices, crabeerry, orange, lemon; dessert--grapes, almonds, raisins &c., coffee and chocolate.
"This was the programme for the feast. The only thing which did not seem promising was the fact that but three hundred could be confortably accomodated at one time, while there were five thousand persons to be accomodated, and a large majority of them ladies. About the hour of 12, the Presidential party were secorted by a private entrance to the privileged places. Soon afterward the doors were opened, and a throng of more than a thousand, who had collected at that end of the hall, poured into the supper-room. Of course, when three persons occupy the space barely sufficient for one, a 'crush' is the result; and the crush which followed can better be imagined than depicted.
"But this was not the worst feature. With the indecency of conduct and want of politeness and etiquette which charcterizes man American people at table, and which is the certain accompaniment of a large grows at a public supper, many gentlemen, and ladies, seized upon the most ornamental and least nutritious part of the table decorations, demolished them, carried the pieces off in a handkerchief or crushed them under foot. Then the more substantial viands were served likewise. Large dishes of choice meats, tatetes, saldes and jellies were carried off vi et armis into the alcoves, or elsewhere. One gentleman presented a very ludicrous attitude with a large plate of smoked tongue, requiring both hands to hold it, no place to sit down, and no way to eat it! He looked the picture of despair.
"In less than an hour the tables was a wreck; a few ornaments not destroyed were removed, and the array of empty dishes and the debris of the feast were postitively frightful to behold. The doors were now wide open, and hundreds of ladies in elegant silks, satins and velvets, and gentlemen in dainty broadcloath, surged and struggled back and forth. A few obtained something to eat, others very little, and many more only succeded in ruing their toilets. As much was wasted as was eaten, and however much may have been provided more than half the guests went supperless. By it was a public supper; we were not much disappointed, and though the gentlemen who managed it may have been to blame for the want of room, the fact remains that the supper was a disaster, and detracted from the otherwise pleasant aspect of the occasion." ---"The Inauguration Ball," The New York Times, March 8, 1865 (p. 1)
[NOTES: (1) The word "toilet" in this period meant personal grooming. This could be makeup, hair, scent, and cleanliness. (2) Actual copy of the original menu here.]
What did President Lincoln think of this affair?
"Was it Circe who could change men into pigs? If so, she must have been present at the inaugural ball which was held Monday, March 6, 1865, to close the ceremony of President Lincoln's second inauguration. The president's own disgust at what he saw during the opening moments of the banquet was so marked, so pronounced, that he could express it in no other way than by taking an abrupt departure. This he did."
---"Lincoln Leaves Second Ball When Dancers Mob Supper," The Washington Post, March 4, 1933 (p. IE15)
[NOTES: (1) We wonder if the president was whisked off by guards for his own safety. (2) This article provides additional details: The cost of a ball ticket was.00. (3) The article the author of the original 1865 eyewitness acount was a woman. It does not reveal her identity.]
"[Martha Patterson, President Johnson's daughter] initited the establishment of a...dairy to keep the White House supplied with the fresh milk and quality butter the Johnson family loved...The 'plain people from the mountains of Tennessee' continued to enjoy in the White House the pleasures that meat something to them back home. They had popcorn parties, in which the President joined heartily. They also roasted apples and chestnuts...the President preferred the country cooking of his native Tennessee...Andrew Johnson...[had] a fondness for the Carolina specialty called Hopping John...Fond as he was of canvasback duck, Andrew Johnson was also very partial to wild turkey...Pine Bark Stew...was a Johnson standby...As a poor Southern boy who helped his widowed mother support the family, Andrew Johnson was no stranger to the resourcefuness of [sweet potatoes]. A few examples of this Johnsonian favorite...Sweet Potato Pone, Apple-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, Pioneer Style, Sweet Potato Pie, Sweet Potato Pudding."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 260-275)
In spite of exposure to some of the fanciest foods of his day, Andy Johnson preferred the simple farm food of his early life, such plain 'vittles' as this rice dish.
Bacon, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes canned, Tomato paste, Rice
Fry lightly 6 strips bacon until lightly crisped. Set aside. Use the bacon fat to saute 2 sliced onions and 1 clove minced garlic. Slowly add 1 large can of tomatoes, with the juice. Stir well, then add 1 can tomato paste. Simmer 5 to 8 minutes over low heat, then sprinkle 1 cup rice and the 6 slices cooked bacon. Cover skillet and steam until the rice is tender. (If the rice is not fully covered by the tomato liquid when you first begin steaming it, add just enough boiling water to cover.)...In Johnson's day, red rice was a meal in itself for humble folk. Serves 6."
---Presidents' Cook Book (p. 267)
Eliza Johnson's Sweet Potato pudding
Besides teaching her husband to read and write and encouraging him in his political career, Eliza Johnson proved herself a capable homemaker and a splendid cook. She knew how to make do in the hard days before her Andy became President. For a make-do recipe, this is a delicious dessert.
Butter, Sweet potatoes, Sugar, Raisins, Allspice and cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeats, Cane Syrup or molasses, Eggs.
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. v273-274)
Ulysses S. Grant
"The inauguration of General Ulysses Simpson Grant in 1869 did more than usher into the Presidency an honored war hero. It launched an era of opulence the like of which the United States had not seen before and has seldom seen since. There is irony in the fact that U.S. Grant, the simplest of men, should have had an administration renowend for its gaudy, lavish disply of all the material vanities of the age...The new President and his wife...were catapulted from the humdrum routine of years of dreary army existence to a world they had never known...A man of simple tastes, President Grant perhaps thought his years in the White House would be a mere continuation of the previous years...As soon as the Grants moved into the White House, the new President brought with him as cook a quartermaster from his army days. Julia [Grant's wife] refrained from comment at first, but it soon became obvious that the "chef" considered the White House dining room simply an enlarged mess hall, with quantity the chief ingredient to be considered. To him turkey represented the sine que non of any dinner. He planned turkey for a formal dinner, and varied the menu for a state dinner by having a bigger turkey...It wasn't long before Julia found a replacement. She hired an Italian steward named [Valentino] Melah, who had catered for some of the nation's most fashionable hotels. From the moment Melah entered the White House the cuisine changed radically. Turkey fled. In its place Melah offered a twenty-five-course dinner, often consisting of partridge, filet of beef, and myriad other elaborate concoctions of the era. Melah's special talent was for opulent banquets...Culinarily speaking, Julia was a creampuff in Melah's hands. She literally turned the planning and execution of officail entertainments over to his capable management...Melah was a wine connoisseur; consequently, the wines accompanying White House dinners were exemplary...At private, quite family dinners, Melah's fine Italian hand was barely discernible. Here the simple tastes of the old soldier held sway. The president adhered to a military punctuality at mealtime...Mealtimes with the family were especially happy occasions...when the Grants were truly alone, the President loved to frolic with his children, and the dinner hour often became play time...It was the President's habit to roll his bread into tiny balls and shoot the balls as ammunition at Nellie and Jesse [two of his children]...Grant retained a fondness for plain cooking...The one large meal that President Grant indulged in was breakfast. Leaner, more Spartan days, when breakfast consisted of cucumbers and coffee, may have been responsible for his insistence on a hearty morning meal. A favorite breakfast consisted of broiled Spanish mackerel, steak, bacon and fried apples, flannel cakes or buckwheat cakes, and a cup of strong black coffee--plain fare by bounteous. At other meals, the President showed partiality for roast beef, wheat (or wheaten) bread, and boiled hominy. His fondness for simple rice pudding was almost a mania."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 276-280)
""[Melah's] state dinner were...rated as successful...The table seated thirty-six without improvising, and dinners for that number were given almost every week. This is how The Olivia Letters [penned by Emily Edson Briggs, a Washington newspaper correspondent] describes one of these elegant dinners: 'In the beginning of the feast, fruit, flowers, and sweetmeats grace the tables, while bread and butter only give a Spartan simplicity to the 'first course,' which is composed of a French vegetables oul, and according to the description by those who have tasted it, no soup, foreign or domestic, has ever been known to equal it. The ambrosial soup is followed by a French croquet of meat. Four admirably trained servants remove the plates between each course, and their motions are as perfect as clockwork...The third 'course' of the dinner is composed of a fillet of beef, flanked on each side by potatoes the size of a walnut, with plenty of mushrooms to keep them company. The next coruse is dainty in the extreme. It is made up entirely of luscious leg of partridges, and baptized by a French name entirely beyond my comprehension. It will readily be seen that a full description of the twenty-nine courses would be altogether too much for the healthy columns of a newspaper to bear, so we pass to the dessert...The dessert is inaugurated by the destruction of a rice pudding, it is a pudding as would make our grandmothers clap their hands with joy. After the rice pudding, canned peaches, pears, and quinces are served. The follow confectionery, nuts, ice-cream, coffee, and chocolate, and with these warm, soothing drinks the presidential entertainment comes to an end, and the host and his guests repair to the Red Room.'...Many of the state dinners consisted of twenty-nine courses with a break after the entree for Roman punch to fortify the guests. A dinner for thirty-six during this administration might cost as much as,000, although the average cost was about 0. For these dinners the State Dining Room was elaborately decorated with garlands of roses and evergreens festooning the ceiling and walls...The centerpiece was often a solid silver ship..."
---The First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States, Margaret Brown Klapthor [Parents Magazine:New York] 1982 edition (p. 121-123)
Need to make something for class? These are tasty & portable:
"Rice Pudding Melah
No dessert at Delmonico's, no matter how special, ever pleased President Grant as much as simple rice pudding. The Grants' Italian steward Melah regarded this homey concoction as a challenge to his ingenuity and tried to vary it from time to time. No matter how he embellished it, Grant liked it and had it as often as posible when the family dined alone. When the inventive Melah experimented with rice pudding, however, it was good enough to be served at official functions--and actually was.
Cinnamon and nutmeg
Measure 3/4 cup long-grain rice into a saucepan. Add 1 1/2 quarts milk and simmer very slowly until the rice is soft. Add 3 tablespoons butter, remove from heat, and cool. Meanwhile, beat 5 eggs well and stir them into the rice mixture. Add 1/2 cup sugar and mix carefully. Pour the mixture into a large greased baking pan and add 1/2 cup slivered almonds, mixing them gently into the pan. Bake in a medium-warm (325 degrees F.) oven until the custard sets. Remove from the oven, sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg over the top and serve. Delicious either warm with cream or chilled. Serves 8."
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 290)
"Fried Apples with Bacon
Peel, core, and slice 8 medium-large, tart apples. make a batter of 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup powered sugar, and 3 beaten egg yolks. Squeeze the jice of 1/2 lemon and add it to the batter. Dip the apple slices, which should be about 1/2 inch thick to keep their shape in cooking, and then dust them lightly with flour. Fry the apple rings in a skillet in hot melted butter until browned lightly. (If you prefer, you may fry the bacon first, set aside, and then fry the apples in the bacon drippings.) In a separate skillet fry 1 pound bacon. When serving, pile the bacon in the center of a large platter and surround the bacon slices with apple rings sprinkled with cinnamon. Serves 8."
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 284)
"Julia's Veal Rolls
When the newly married Grants were entertaining for the first time--having four or five of Ulysses' fellow officers to dinner--Julia was terrified. She had come from a slave-holding Missouri family and had been brought up with no knowledge at all of cooking. Her husband reassured her, telling her that he could 'run up a savory mess himself, if need be. He had roasted apples at West Point and had even been known to cook a fowl.' Julia survived the ordeal of that first company dinner and went on to become a respectable cook, as this recipe will testify. It was one of her favorites, later given to the Galena Presbyterian Church.
Leg of Veal
Salt and pepper
Here it is, in Julia Grant's own words: 'Slice as large pieces as you can get from a leg of veal; make a stuffing of grated bread, butter, a little onion, minced, salt, pepper, and spread over the slices. Beat an egg and put over the stuffing; roll each slice tightly and tie with a thread; stick a few cloves in them, grate bread thickly over them after they are put in the skillet, with butter and onions chopped fine; when done lay them in a dish. Make their gravy and pour over them. Take the threads off and garnish with eggs, boil[ed] hard, and serve. To be cut in slices.'."
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 285)
Rutherford B. Hayes
"In his personal taste, the President enjoyed everthing in moderation. He always had one cup of coffee at breafkast time, one cup of tea for lunch...Delicate Cornmeal Battercakes...Long a favorite breakfast dish in the White House in the days of Lucy Hayes...Angel Cake was one of [Lucy's] favorite desserts...Both Rutherford and Lucy Webb Hayes had their roots in Ohio...Simple fricpes from 'back home' frequently found their was to the White House table...Winnie Monroe, the Hayes' cook, was another Ohioan, so it was natural for home-grown recipes to be repeated in Washington..."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 293-301)
Need to make something for class?
Some of Lucy Webb Hayes recipes are online.
According to the historians, Mr. Garfield really liked squirrel soup:
"The attempt to interest the patient [James A. Garfield, after he was shot July 2, 1881] in food is also recorded by Colonel Crook, the Disbursing Officer of the White House. He says that the consulting doctors thought the appetite for the ill man might be tempted if he could have some squirrel soup, of which he was very fond. For this purpose, Crook was given a permit to shoot squirrels on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home. Unfortunately, the President never got well enough for the Colonel even to go after the squirrels."
---First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States, Margaret Brown Klapthor, historical text (p. 137)
[NOTE: This book has several favorite recipes, not for squirrel but for bread--your librarian can help you find this book]
The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon (p. 302-307) states that James A Garfield preferred healthy, nutritious food over rich European dishes. His wife, Lucrezia, was an excellent bread baker. Garfield's favorite drink was milk. When he was dying, the Adams Express Company in Baltimore sent a cow to the White House to ensure a fresh supply of milk. This book lists these recipes as Garfield's favorites: Soda bread, Insipiration bread, Extra-fluffy mashed potatoes, Parsnips a la Garfield, Garfield pie (apple), Garfield herbal tea & Spice tea.
“Garfield had for years suffered from severe stomach ailments. He had endured chronic dysentery during the Civil War and later battled dyspepsia…Garfield…carefully controlled his diet, even carrying with him to Congress a lunch that his doctors had prescribed—a sandwich of raw beef on stale bread.”
---Destiny of the Republic, Candice Millard [Doubleday:New York] 2011 (p. 175)
[NOTE: This book does not reveal whether or not President Garfield liked this sandwich.]
“Most days, Garfield was able to keep down a little bit of oatmeal. Unfortunately, that happened to be the one food he despised. Although Garfield found it difficult to eat anything, for a while at least he seemed to relish drinking a glass of milk. He dutifully swallowed the koumiss, a drink made from fermented horse milk, that [Dr.] Bliss gave him nearly every day, but he strongly preferred cow’s milk. Eager to help in any way, Americans latched onto this small piece of information. So that the president might have the freshest possible milk, a company in Baltimore sent him an Alderny cow, which could be seen tied ip on the White House lawn. The White House cook, who was the only Catholic among the staff, poured a large glass of milk for Garfield every day. Just before she carried his tray up the winding servant stairs to his sickroom, she quietly sprinkled holy water into his glass.”
---ibid (p. 217)
This delicious pie was a favorite of President Garfield's...
Sour apples (or canned apple slices or apple-pie filling, Egg yolks, Butter, Lemon juice and rind, Sugar, Flour, Unbaked pie shell. Combine 2 cups stewed tart apples with 2 egg yolks. Add t tablspoon butter, the juice of 1/2 lemon, and the grated rind of 1 whole lemon. Sprinkle with sugar to taste. Then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour. Place the mixture in an unbaked 9-inch pie shell and bake in a moderately hot (375 degree F.) oven for about 20 minutes. (Although this was favored by President Garfiled as a one-crust pie, it is also tasty with a lattice top)."
---Presidents' Cookboo (p. 306)
Chester A. Arthur
"If gourmetship were the chief ingredient in Presidential greatness, our twenty-first President would score near the top. Few Presidents have ever equaled Chester Alan Arthur in social and culinary style. Only one, the master of all--Thomas Jefferson--surpassed him....On December 7, 1881, Arthur took up residence in the White House and celebrated his arrival with a cosy, intimate dinner in...[the private dining room]...We have no record of that first small dinner...other than the knowledge it was prepared by the French chef Arthur brougth with him to Washington. The chef had worked for New York gourmets and was well acquainted with the elaborate dinners of the haute monde of the day...The President's daily schedule stressed moderation. He usually arose about nine-thirty, had a light Continental breakfast of coffee and a roll as he dresed, and then went to his office...Lunch consisted of oatmeal, fish, and fruit--no meat or heavy side dishes...Dinner was at six. He dined lightly, but with style. His favorite meal was a mutton chop with a glass of ale, or a slice of rare roast beef with hot baked potatoes and fruits. Accompanying this was a glass of claret...President Arthur was fond of seafood of all kinds...he was particularly keen on [Rhode Island Eels]...He went to the Thousand Islands are particularly enjoyed salmon fishing--and salmon eating... Arthur favored [Macaroni Pie with Oysters]...At Chester Arthur's sumptuous dinners [Turtle Steak]...was just one of the many specialties of his chef..."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 302-319)
[NOTES: (1) Recipes included for Mr. Arthur include Newport [RI] Pound Cake, Devil's Food Cake (a popular new dessert, and Nesslerode Pudding. Charlotte Russe is also mentioned as very popular during Arthur's administration. (2) Recipes for Mutton Chops and Baked Salmon are offered in the First Ladies Cookbook, (p. 144-145)]
"Throughout his Presidency, Cleveland maintained this eloquent Victorian standard of entertaining at official functions. His privated dining habits were something else again. In fact, during the tedium of one long, rich multi-course meal, he was heard to murmer that he would prefer a plate of corned beef and cabbage. Cleveland had brought from Albany his cook, who had served him faithfully as Governor and knew exactly how to prepare the simple dishes he liked best. Frank Carpenter, journalistic observer of the time, noted aspects of the President's personal dining habits. 'At eight he is ready for breakfast. This is not a large meal...[it consists of] oatmeal, beefsteak, eggs or a chop, with coffee to wash it down.' Lunch...was virtually a snack...Dinner was 'a plain meal...'"
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 320-328)
[NOTE: Recipes include Boeuf Vorne au Cabeau (aka corned beef & cabbage!), brown bread (Mrs. Cleveland's personal recipe), and Snickerdoodles (New England-style spice cookies).]
"...President Cleveland never really liked French cooking. He once wrote, 'I must go to dinner. I wish it was to eat a pickled herring, Swiss cheese and a chop at Louis' instead of the French stuff I shall find.'"
---The First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States, Margaret Brown Klapthor, [Funk and Wagnalls:New York] 1982 revised edition (p. 146-151)
[Note: recipes in this book include Turban of Chicken, Cleveland Style, White Cake and Chocolate Frosting.]
"...the Harrison Christmas dinner was about as American and unpretentious as the family itself. The dinner began wit Blue Point oysters on the half shell, followed by consomme a la Royale, chicken in patty shells, and then the piece de resistance, stuffed roast turkey, cranberry jelly, Duchess potatoes and braised celery. Then came terrapin a la Maryland, lettuce salad with French drssing, and assorted desserts: minced pie, American plum pudding, tutti fruitti ice cream. For those still hungry, ladyfingers, Carlsbad wafers, and macaroons were passed, followed by fruit and coffee...Each child's plate had by its side a rush basket of bonbons. Part of the birthday feast included 'big dishes of beaten biscuits...' Bouillon--a Harrison family favorite--was also served, along with cakes and ice cream...The Harrisons were a soup-loving family [Corn Soup] was a special favorite...It was Mrs. Harrison's homy custom to serve hot clear soup at her White House teas and receptions...The Harrison family was as fond of oysters--in a variety of forms--as any long-time Washington residents...So addicted was Caroline Harrison to good food properly prepared that she actually compiled a cookbook during her time in Washington...The indefatigable Mrs. H. collected her favorite recipes of various legislators' wives and bound them together under the title Statesmen's Dishes and How to Cook Them...The Ohio-Indiana-bred Harrison family were all corn addicts, favoring a great number of recipes for serving this useful vegetable...Presidential Fig Pudding... epitomizes Benjamin Harrison's food preference. It is made of a staple, common food, but it is prepared very well indeed, with imagination exercised in the preparation. Mrs. Harrison was justifiably proud of her concoction and included it in her cookbook...."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 329-343)
[NOTES: (1) Recipes found here are Corn Chowder, Amber Soup, Scalloped Oysters with Macaroni, Mrs. Harrison's Sausage Rolls, Chicken Salad with Homemade Mayonnaise, Spicy Macaroni, Presidential Fig Pudding, and Pecan Cake. (2) We do not yet own a copy of Mrs. Harrison's cookbook. Some fo the recipes above are reprinted from this source.]
Need to make something for class?
Form a stiff dough with 2 egg whites beaten together with an equal quantity of cold water and enough powdered sugar to give body (about 2 pounds powdered sugar will be needed). Se dough aside while preparing the fruit. Fill seedless dates with the dough and cover with it. Cover blanched alsmonds with it. Form the dough into round or small oblong balls and put a cherry on top (English walnuts may be used too).
"Both [President and Mrs. McKinley] liked plain food, in substantial quantities. Both breakfasted on army portions of eggs, hot breads, potatoes, steak or chops, fish on occasion, fruit, and coffee...Lunch and dinner followed the same abundant and starchy path...Eggs were a standard on the McKinley breakfast table, usually fried or scrambled, but sometimes 'fancied up,' as in this omelet......Boiled Fish a la McKinley...was a family favorite...Red Flannel Hash...found favor in Victorian times with Midwesterners like the McKinleys...Hot Lobster salad...was prized enough by the McKinley to be served as the focal point of their silver wedding anniversay celebration...."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 344-350)
Teddy Roosevelt approached food with the same zeal he employed in aspects of his maverick career. This President had definate culinary opinions and specific favorite foods. General notes here:
"The Roosevelts were a comfortably affluent family who could eat what thy liked. What they liked happened to be simple--not Spartan, as some reports have suggested--but good simplicity in hearty helpings. For breakfast, the President had hard-boiled eggs with rolls and coffee. He varied this occasionally by having a big bowl of hominy with salt and butter. Teddy had set ideas, within the limitations of his food preferences, of just how his food should be prepared. The eggs must be hard boiled, not medium or soft. Rolls must be homemade and served in great quantities. Coffee, too, was consumed in volume. Ted, Jr., recalled that his father's coffee cup was "more in the nature of a bathtub." If the president lunched alone, he had a bowl of milk, sometimes with crackers, sometimes not. But he was capable of eating quantities of food if the occasion arose. One observer, O.K. Davis, said, "I have seen him eat a whole chicken and drink four large glasses [of milk] at one meal, and chicken and milk were by no means the only things served." Lunch with the family usually consisted of cold meat (often leftovers), freshly baked bread, cantaloupe in season, and tea. Family dinners were often three-course affairs, but sometimes only two. The food was generously served by unpretentious. The White House received many gifts of game, an undending delight to Teddy. He was also very fond of chicken, as has been implied, and had pronounced ideas on service it, saying once: "The only way to serve fried chicken is with white gravy soaked into the meat." Steak was a popular food with the President...He had a great sweet tooth and usually used as many as seven lumps of sugar in his coffee...Hominy was a staple at the Roosevelt table. In addition to being part of breakfast, it was often served as a starch at lunch and dinner, with meat gravy over it...T.R.'s one great gourmet interest was exotic teas...Ku-Kwa was a favorite...Teddy Roosevelt also expressed admiration for the famous Caravan tea...The President was far less fond of alcohol. At informal dinners with friends, only one wine was served, a far cry from the previous adminstrations' six and seven glasses. It is possible that alcohol did not agree with T.R."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 352-3)
[NOTE: recipes in this book include Fat Rascals (biscuits), Sagamore Hill Sand Tarts, Corn Choweder with Bear's Paw Popcorn, Chilled Senegalese Soup, Fiddlehead Fern Salad, Teddy Roosevelt's Edible Leaves (salad), Wilted Dandelion Greens, Cream of Cucumber Salad, Stuffed Cucumbers, Creamed Oysters, Pigs in Blankets, Broiled Shad with Creamed Roe, Sagamore Hill Liver and Bacon, Kidney Stew (Breakfast specialty), Annie the Cook's Simple Sugar Wafers, Snow Ice Cream, Milk Ice, Teddy Roosevelt's Baked Indian Pudding, Picket Fence Pudding. "Princess" Alice' Jumbles, Teddy Roosevelt's Milk Punch, Mint Tea, Catawba May Wine, Rooseveltian Julep, and Coffee a la Roosevelt.]
"While Roosevelt loved to eat, the dinner table to him was less an occasion for fine dining than a springboard for conversation in which he played the prime role. (p. 115)..."With the exception of the President's love for Caracvan and Hu-Kwa tea, he had little use for exotic food or drink, or even for alcohol. Although many unknowing oververs clucked that the President used his huge golden goblet to slurp whiskey, in fact he usually drank form it a mixture of white wine and sparkling water. Roosevlet had an outdoorsman's taste for game of all kinds, fried chicken, and steak, and a sweet tooth for cookies. Other preferences included a fondness for all manner of greens (fiddleheads and dandelions, in particular); shad and shad roe; liver and bacon for breakfast; kidney stew; Indian pudding; and mint tea...ome sophisticated visitors were taken aback at the simplicity and relative absence of alchoholic refreshment at Sagamore Hill; others reveled in the same simplicity, like the Englishman who exclaimed over his luncheon of 'bouillon, some lamb chops and new peas and potatoes, and watermelon for dessert.' (p. 126-127)...Oysters were said to be a Roosevelt favorite." (p. 129)
---The President's Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Doplomacy, Barry H. Landau [HarperCollins:New York] 2007
TR's 42nd birthday dinner, October 27, 1900, [Courtesy of the Theodore Roosevelt Association]
First Course: Bluepoint Oysters
Second Course: Green Turtle Soup, Clear Celery Olives Sweet Sherry
Third Course: Timbale of Peanut Ham
Fourth Course: Crab Flake la Newberg
Fifth Course: Fillet of Beef, Dickinson Green Peas Fresh Mushrooms sous Cloche (under glass)
Sixth Course: Quail & Bread Sauce Salad Roman Punch
Dessert Cakes Confectionary Biscuit Tortoni
Coffee Appropriate Wines with each Course
In June 1906 a syndicated column published in the Washington Post "outed" TR and his family for indulging in extravagant dining practices. TR responded in kind the next day in the same paper:
"The President indicates that but one correct inference can be gleaned from a syndicate story appearing tin the [Washington] Post yesterday, which purports to describe at some length the culinary department of the Executive Mansion, and that is that the occupants of the White House partake of the ordinary three meals a day. The menu card supplied but the author of the Executive Mansions pure-food story might, indeed, be interesting reading, suggested the President, if it portrayed facts. But when any one endeavors to create a widespread impression that the President and his family sit down to a four or five course breakfast, a six or seven course luncheon, and a ten-course dinner, the President feels that a denial is not inappropriate. Instead of a breakfast consisting of oranges, cantaloupes, cereals, eggs, bacon, lamb chops, hot cakes, and waffles, President Roosevelt insists that the regular White House breakfast consists of hard boiled eggs, rolls, and coffee. Instead of a luncheon of such delicious viands as Little Neck clams, stuffed olives, celery, consommй of chicken, fish sautй, eggs a la turque, Spring lamb, new string beans, asparagus, mashed potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, and ice cream, President Roosevelt declares that when alone he always contents himself with a bowl of bread and milk. When Mrs. Roosevelt or the children are present, the luncheon consists of cold meat, if there is any left over, tea, cantaloupe in season, and bread. Instead of a ten-course dinner, including almost everything in the list of edibles, the President declares that nine times out of ten a three-course dinner is served, and the other time a two-course dinner. The paragraph in the culinary story referring to the fact that the President and his family 'eat about the same things as are eaten by other American families in comfortable circumstances,' the President declares to be accurate if segregated form the balance of the story. But when taken in connection with the published menu cards, the President sarcastically inquires how many comfortable American families serve such meals. Upon the statement that 'every article of food that goes to the White House table is carefully inspected' the President humorously admits that the cook looks over the potatoes to see that no bad ones get into the pot, but that such espionage over edibles is all that is contemplated. The assertion that the White House marketing is all done at the Central Market might be true but for the fact that none of the marketing is done at the Central Market. Pinckney, the White House steward, is credited with being clothed with entire authority in buying provisions. Sometimes the President says Pinckney does buy some fruit, but that he never buys other provisions. Special mention made of asparagus consumed at the White House as being purchased through the market is all wrong, declares the President, as all asparagus eaten at the White House comes from the President's estate at Oyster Bay. The interesting declaration that Quentin is permitted to have all the sugar he wants in his demi-tasse loses some of its flavor in the light of the President's declaration that Quentin never drinks coffee."
---"What the President Eats: Mr. Roosevelt Corrects and Epicurean Syndicate Story," Washington Post, June 26, 1906 (p. 6)
Senator Hanna's famous Heavenly Hash was served to TR in 1906. Primary records confirm the popularity of this recipe. We do not have TR's reaction.
Need to make something for class?
In Edith Roosevelt's most cherished cookbook, which now rests on a shelf in the parlour of Sagamore Hill, is this recipe for hot biscuits. Served right from the oven, with butter on them, they make a delicious coffee-klatch or teatime snack. We like to serve them as well at breakfast, as a change from coffee cake or rolls. One taste and you will see why Teddy Roosevelt enjoyed breakfast so much--eggs, coffee, and rolls....
Sift 4 cups flour wtih 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and 4 teaspoons baking powder. Mix well. Cut in 1 1/2 cups butter. Then stir in 1 pound dried currants. Mix well again and add 1 cup milk, little by little. With each addition, mix with a fork until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough approximately 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured board. use a 2-inch round cutter to shape the biscuits. Bake biscuits on an ungreased cooky sheet until nicely browned. Bake in a hot (450 degrees F.) oven about 12 minutes. Whe done, remove from oven, split and butter each biscuit, and serve piping hot. Makes approximately 2 dozen."
Sagamore Hill Sand Tarts
Sweets, especially cookies, were a Roosevelt weakness. The President gobbled cookies such as these sand tarts as fast as they appeared on the plate. This recipe, particularly cherised one in the family, was found on the inside cover of one of Edith Roosevelt's many cookbooks. The family offered these cookies to friends who dropped in Christmas morning. Served with hot coffee...
Cream 1 cup butter until it is as smooth as mayonnaise. Then add 2 cups sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs, one by one, beating after each addition. Beat in one additional egg yolk and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Stir in 4 cups sifted flour. Mix again well. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board until quite thin. Cut with a 2 1/2-inch cooky cutter. The beat remaining egg white just enough to stir it up a bit. Brush the egg white on top of the cookies. Sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture and bake on a greased cooky sheet in a moderate (350 degrees F.) oven for about 8 minutes. Makes 6 dozen."
---Presidents' Cookbook, (p. 357-358)
Additional notes regarding TR's White House entertaining style can be found in The First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States/Margaret Brown Klapthor [recipes for Roast suckling pig, Indian pudding, and Clove cake]
William Howard Taft
A classic "Steak and Potatoes" man who enjoyed contemporary fine dining.
"Steak spelled with a big 'S' was the favorite food of William Howard Taft. When the Chief Justice started to eat stea, it did not matter much to him what the meal was. As a matter of fact, according to the late Ike Hoover, of the White House staff, when Taft was President there was always steak for his breakfast. Naturally, Mrs. Taft saw to it that steak appeared every morning for her husband. Toward the end of his life he had to modify his diet and steak became more of a luxury. Generally Mrs. Taft would order some form of potaotes to go with the steak. The former President was fond of hashed brown potatoes, if his diet did not interfere. The steak was always broiled in this method:
Select a T-Bone, tenderloin or sirloin. Wipe the meat dry, remove the outside skin and some of the fat if there is a large quantity of it. Then, with some of the removed fat, grease the broiler. Place the steak on the broiler over a clear fire or under the gas flame; sear quickly on both sides to prevent the juices escaping. Turn again and cook on both sides until done, 10 to 15 minutes for a medium thick steak if deseried rare; allow a few minutes longer if steak is preferered well done. RRemove to hot platter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stpread with soft butter."
---"Favorite Foods of Famous Folk," Pattie Ellicott, Washington Post, October 31, 1935 (p. 12)
"Taft would have had to defer to several others when the title of Presidential gourmet was awarded, but there is no doubt he deserved the award as leading gourmand. Some of his "snacks" have become legendary. On a visit to Savannah, he once breakfastaed on grapefruit, potted partridge, broile venison, grilled partridge, waffles with maple syrup and butter, hominy, hot rolls, bacon, and more venison...A typical Taft lunch might include bouillon, smelts with tartar sauce, lamb chops, Bermuda potatoes, green peas, and--for dessert-- raspberry jelly with whipped cream, salted almonds, bonbons, and coffee. Like his predecessor and mentor, Teddy Roosevelt, Taft was a great coffee consumer. Dinner some hours later would be, typically, lobster stew, salmon cutlets with peas, roast cold tenderloin with vegetable salad, cold tongue and ham, followed by frozen pudding, cake, fruit, and coffee...At home, under the watchful eyes of a well-meaning wife, he might dociley nibble at his eight-ounce breakfast steak, his two oranges, several pieces of toast and butter, all washed down with quantities of coffee with cream and sugar...But on the road he let himself go...President Taft enjoyed entertaining...the first diplomatic tea...[served] Lobster a la Newburg, chicken pates, salad, rolls, an assorted sandwiches...as well as ice cream, cakes, candies, coffee, and punch. It was a spread in the Taft tradition... The President was fond of waffles for breakfast...The only breakfast dish that President Taft would not eat was eggs--he could not abide them...One of President Taft's favorite luncheon dishes was terrapin [turtle] soup...[Taft also enjoyed] Billi Bi... a cream of mussels soup...the President dearly loved all kinds of seafood...William Howard Taft did not care how elaborate the food was as long as it was attractively served--and served in quantity. Bake ham filled the bill every time...Salads were a special favorite, almost a perennial on the Taft luncheon and dinner tables...peach salad was held in high esteem...One of Taft's weaknesses was salted almonds...."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 370-382)
"This city is astir with excitment over the coming here today of President Elect William H. Taft, who wil be the city's guest for twenty-four hours...The climax of Atlanta's attentions to Mr. Taft will come tonight at the chamber of commerce banquet. Six hundred and fifty others will sit down to dine with the president elect on a menu composed mainly of famous southern delicacies. The piece de resistance will be baked possum, with baked sweet potatoes on the right of him, on the left of him, under him and heaped over him. The possum was included in the bill of fare at Mr. Taft's request...Leading up to the "possum and taters," there will be the renowned Brunswick Stew, and to wash the dishes down there will be gallons and gallons of "simmon beer," a strictly temperance drink brewed from the famous but slighly acid persimmon."
---"Atlanta Greets Prseiden Elect," Daily Record [Morristown, NJ], January 15, 1909 (p. 4)
Need to make something for class? How about President Tafts beloved almond snack?
One of Taft's weaknesses was salted almonds. He nibbled on them whenever he had the chance...Fixed this way, the almonds made especially tempting nibblies for Taft...
Put 1/2 pound blanched almonds into a preheated skillet with 2 ounces of butter. Saute the nuts until they are a light brown. drain on absorbant paper. The place the nuts in a cake pan, sprinkle cayenne and salt lighly over them; shake well, so the seasoning is spread evenly around the nuts. Serve hot. One half pound almonds was, as far as President Taft was concerned, too much for one, not enough for two."
---The Presidents' Cookbook (p. 386)
"...President Wilson's disinterest in food posed some White House problems. The White House physician was constantly concerned about the President's lack of weight...An elaborate survey was taken by the White House staff to determine the President's food preferences--which dishes he seemed to enjoy to eat, which he left untouched. Chicken salad was a favorite and was frequently requested by Wilson as a luncheon dish. An once, when he was to visit friends who lived ouside Washington in the Virginia countryside, he wrote ahead--in an untypical burst of gustatorial ferver: 'I am very fond of country hams, peach cobblers, butter and buttermilk, fresh eggs, hot biscuits, homemade ice cream and plain white cake.' This contrasts oddly with a later report that the President's favorite breakfast consisted solely of two raw eggs in grapejuice... A constantly requested favorite of President Wilson was strawberry ice cream, combining his favorite form of dessert with one of his favorite fruit...Georgia Kiss Pudding, a favorite recipe brought to the White House via the President's House at Princeton University...."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 383-393)
Put into a kettle one ounce of gelatin, one quart of water, one-half pint of milk, one pound of sugar, yolks of four eggs and four spoons of sugar. When these ingredients are well mixed pour them upon the yolks and scald them--stirring all the while; then strain it through a sieve and pour it while hot on the four whites which must first be beaten to a froth. Stir it constantly--when it is cold, add a syllabub prepared as follows: One-half pint of cream, the remainder of the sugar, churn it, then lay it upon a sieve so that all the milk may drain out. Stir constantly until cold.
Editors' Note--The 'Woodrow' referred to the the Wilson Family Cook Book was inaugurated twenty-eighth President of the United States, March 4, 1913."
---The Economy Administration Cook Book, Susie Root Rhodes editor [W.B. Conkey Company:Hammond, IN] 1913 (p. 27)
[NOTE: This source contains a general history of the Wilson Family Cook Book and several recipes from its pages.]
Luncheon, March 4, 1913 Bouillon, Cheese Straws, Oyster Patties, Chicken Croquettes, Green Peas, Smithfield Ham, White Bread and Butter, Brown Bread and Butter, Biscuits, Rolls, Strawberry Ice Cream and Cake, Coffee.
Inaugural luncheon arranged by the retiring mistress of the White House
Dinner, March 4, 1913 Clear Soup, Cheese Straws, Broiled Shad, Cucumbers, Roast Lamb, Mint Sauce, Beans, Potatoes, Waldorf Salad, Chocolate Mousse, Cakes, Coffee.
First Wilson family dinner served in the White House.
Breakfast, March 5, 1913 Oranges, Cereal with Cream, Bacon and Eggs, Steak, Hot Cakes, Toast, Tea, Coffee.
First Wilson family breakfast at the White House
Luncheon, March 5, 1913 Fruit, Fried Oysters, Cold Slaw, Tartare Sauce, Broiled Chicken, Creamed Potatoes, Green Peas, Apple Fritters, Hard Sauce, Coffee.
Served to President Woodrow Wilson's relatives--twenty-five in number--brought together in Washington D.C. for the inauguration.
Dinner, March 5, 1913 Cream of Celery Soup, Baked Fillet of Halibut, White Sauce, Roast Capon, Cauliflower, Mashed Potatoes, Fruit Salad, Charlotte Russe, Coffee.
Dinner served in the state dining room, White House, to the Wilsons--thirty-three in number--assembled for the inauguration of their kinsman, twenty-eighth President of the United States."
---The Economy Administration Cook Book, Susie Root Rhodes editor [W.B. Conkey Company:Hammond, IN] 1913 (p. 50-51)
"Hors d'oeuvres made by Mrs. Woodrow Wilson's own recipes will be served at a reception to be given by Acropolis Books Friday in the home of the World War I President. Copies if the recipes, some in Mrs. Wilson's handwriting (including a few she apparently secured from friends during bridge games because they are written on score cards), are on file in the house. These recipes, which will be used Friday, were printed in "Entertaining in the White House" by Marie Smith.
Mrs. Wilson's Clam Dip
1 small can clams 1 package cream cheese
Drain off juice, mince clams, add onion (grated), salt and pepper. Blend.
Mrs. Wilson's 'Angels on Horseback'
Small raw oysters
Bread slices in oval shape
Wrap oysters in three-inch strips of bacon. Fasten with toothpicks. Broil in oven until bacon is crisp. Remove toothpicks and serve on toasted bread ovals spread with tartar sauce.
Mrs. Wilson's 'Hot Peppered Nuts'
Into an iron skillet over a low flame put a pound of shelled paper-shell pecans, halved. Add two or three lumps of butter the size of walnuts. Stir frequently and when almost toasted add salt and cayenne pepper generously. Place in a warm oven to keep hot until served."
---"A Wilson Reception," Washington Post, April 29, 1971 (p. C3)
Warren G. Harding
"Another Midwestern country favorite...is this authentic chicken pie brought to the White House by Mrs. Harding...Before the poker session began at a stag dinner at the White House that alsmost always included the Presidential favorite, knockwurst and sauerkraut. Sometimes frankfurters were served...A typical breakfast eaten by Harding and his friends included grapefruit, hot cereal, scrambled eggs and bacon, wheatcakes with maple syrup, corn muffins, toast, and the proverbial gallons of coffee... Mrs. Harding liked waffles...As the Hardings' main dishes tended to be on the heavy side, there was frequent need on White House menus of that day for a light first course or a light dessert..."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 394-402)
In 1921 President Harding was invited on the Great American Road Trip with the Four Vagabonds: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. What did they eat on that trip?
"Chicken Pot Pie
Another Midwestern country favorite...it this authentic chicken pie brought to the White House by Mrs. Harding...
Stewing chicken (fowl), Bay leaf, Potatoes, Onions, Butter, Salt, pepper, Biscuit dough or pie crust, Egg.
Simnmer a large fowl with bay leaf in water to cover until thorougly tender. Remove meat from bones, separate into fairly large pieces. Retain chicken stock. Boil 8 to 10 small peeled potatoes and 6 or 8 small white onions in the stock until tender. Grease a deep baking dish with butter; combine chicken, potatoes, and onions. Pour in thickened stock--enough barely to cover the other ingredients--season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with biscuit dough or pie crust. Paint top with slightly beaten egg, bake in medium (350 degree F.) oven until top is nicely browned. Serve with remainder of stock., slightly thickened, in gravy boat. Resist the temptation to add cream or milk to the sauce. Country folks never do. Serves 4 to 6."
---Presidents' Cookbook (p. 398-399)
"President Coolidge vastly preferred the family dinner table to formal banquets, yet it seems taht it was only in the Coolide era that the President, his wife, and one or two of their children dined in evening clothes in the State Dining Room--even when ther were no guests...President Coolidge had more odd ideas about food than perhaps any other White House resident. For one thing, he insisted up referring to all meals as supper even if they were actually breakfast or luncheon or a formal state dinner. For another, he generally breakfasted (or supped, as it were) on hot cereal prepared in the White House kitchen by combining three parts whole wheat and one part whole rye, cooed in its unground state. And then there was the ceaseless nibbling...Unnoticed by the guests, a waiter would slip a plate of roast beef before the President, no matter what entree was being served officially...[Coolidge] was inordinately fond of the pickles of his native Vermont...Grace Coolidge was enamoured of Oriental cuisines...President Coolidge hd the usual coutnry feelign that a chicken could not really be good unless it was raised close by the kitchen door. So he had a chicken yard built in back of the White House and kept a small flock of Vermont chickens there. Somehow, chickens from this coop, when prepared for the White House table, had a curiously fragrant and mysterious flavor. Investigation showed that Coolidge's chicken-yard was built right on top of President Teddy Roosevelt's mint bed...The President himself had a favorite Oriental dish [Curry of Veal]...it was often served during cruises on the Presidential yacht...Calvin Coolidge...used today he never ate anything as good as his mother's pork apple pies--a dessert!...[Strawberry a la King Pie]...was reputed to be Mrs. Coolidge's favorite dessert...."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 403-418)
[NOTE: favorite Coolidge recipes include Vermont Country Pickles, President Coolidge's Curry of Veal, Mrs. Coolidge's Chicken Chop Suey, Chicken Chow Mein, Pork Apple Pie, Coolidge Custard Pie, Maple Walnut Cookies, and Mrs. Coolidge's Lemon Pie.]
Nowhere was the Coolidge fastidiousness more apparent than in the constant struggle and failure to get the kind of cornmeal muffins the Vermont President wanted. He and Mrs. Coolidge were both fond of these country favorites but had trouble getting the White House kitchen to turn them out to perfection. So Mrs. Coolidge sent off to the inn at Northhampton for the recipe, adapted it somewhat, and this was the way cornmeal muffins were finally made at the White House during the Cooidge years there.
Beat 2 eggs, add 1 scant cup milk. Blend 2 cups cornmeal, 1 cup flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and mix into egg-milk mixture. Put into well-greased muffin tins and bake in hot (450 degrees F.) oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 2 dozen 2-inch muffins."
---The Presidents' Cookbook (p. 407)
"The watchword had been economy while the Coolidges lived in the White House. Now it was elegance. The best of everything was served--sometimes out of season, often imported. And this policy extended to the servants, who were apt to be cheered, when home ill, by a basket of food and flowers sent with Mrs. Hoover's card. Mrs. Hoover never questioned the amount of food consumed or its cost. Her only requirement was that it be of the best quality, well cooked and well served. But her interest in things culinary was from her desk where she interviewed the housekeeper and the cook...President Hoover was an extremely rapid eater, and the kitchen staff used to make bets as to how long it would take him to speed through a meal...Despite the formality of the household, the Hoovers were not demanding. It has been said by members of their staff that our 31st president was one of the easiest men in the world to please...President Hoover used to go down to Opelousas, Louisiana, to eat gumbo at a small restaurant he particularly liked...Although an inlander, Hoover was particularly fond of lobster...President Hoover liked [Virginia Ham] especially...In the Hoover household [Egg Timbales]...was a frequent luncheon dish. The President invariably, so we are told, asked for a second helping...Despite world travels, President Hoover always maintained that some of the finest food he ate in his life came from his Aunt Millie's kitchen...after his wife died...the former President...still clung to many of his favorite dishes...He continued to nibble black cherries sent to him from Oregon...On occasion he even allowed himself the luxury of griddle cakes or fried cornmeal mush...When he allowed himself a sweet, it was often a homemade candy, something to which he was partial."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 419-429)
"Mary Rattley, for eight years queen of Mrs. Hoover's kitchen in the Hoover home in Washington, D.C. keeps her subjects gastronomically happy. She knows the President-elect's taste down to the last 't.' Mr. Hoover's favorite dishes, and how to tickle the palates of visitors and to tempt the fastidious and dyspeptic. As every monarch is supposed to be, Mary is queen by divine right; she is a born cook...Many of the Hoovers' favorite dishes are Mary's own invention. Some of her recipes she keeps only for her own use, and some she can't give out becuase she has never measure the ingredients. She has a native genius for putting in a little of this and some of that and a pinch of sethinge else and turing out a dish to make the mouth water and the hair curl...'Mr. Hoover is the easiest man in the world to please,' she said...[he] l;ikes corn soup and cream potato soup and roast lamb, and he is particularly fond of Virginia ham. Yes, I made up my own recipe for baked ham, I take a midly cured ham, wash it and soak it overnight, and then I put it on in cold water waith the skin side down and add two cupfuls of brown sugar and two cupfuls of cinegar. I let is come to a boil and then simmer slowly until the skin puckers. Then I take it off the stove and let it cool in the water. That keeps the juices in the meat. The I skin it and rub it all over with currant jelly. And I always make my currant jelly myself. Then I sprinkle the ham with breadcrumbs and brown it in the oven...Meanwhile Mary dragged out of the oven a fragrant apple pie flavored with lemon nutmeg and covered with marshmallow meringue..."
---"Secrets from the Hoover Kitchen," Galveston Daily News [TX], March 23, 1929 (p. 6)
"'And here is another of Mrs. Hoover's favorite dishes. It is my own recipe and I call it 'Maryland caramel tomatoes.' Incidentally, that name is a tribute to Mary's native State, but she spent fifty years in Washington cooking for many people prominent in national life...'You cut off the tops of the tomatoes--leave the stem--and make a cavity in the top, and fill each hole with a good-sized piece of butter--not a stingy piece-and put a tablespoonful of sugar on each tomato. Sprinkle with salt, and put in the oven to cook until the sugar is brown and the tomato done but not flat. Stick a sprig of parsley in the top of each tomato and serve on rounds of toast with sauce of the tomato. That makes a very pretty dish,' Mary concluded."
---"Secrets from the Hoover Kitchen," Galveston Daily News [TX], March 23, 1929 (p. 6)
[NOTE: Mary Rattley added: "Mrs. Hoover likes souffles and Caramel Tomatoes; Mr. Hoover likes Corn Soup, Virginia Ham and Watermelon!"] Classic
"Maryland Caramel Tomatoes
8 ripe tomates of equal size
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
Skin the tomatoes. Carefully cut off the tops. Place them in a buttered baking dish suitable to serve them in. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Dab each of the with butter. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and bake for 1/2 hour. The remove to the top of the stove, and over a low flame, reduce the juice until it is a thick syrup. Then once again bake them in a hot oven (400 degeres F) for 1/2 hour. Serve hot."
---The First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States, Margaret Brown Klapthor [Parents Magazine Enterprises:New York]1982 revised edition(p. 190)
Did Herbert Hoover coin the phrase "A Chicken in Every Pot," in his 1928 campaign?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt & Eleanor Roosevelt
The Great Depression, Prohibition and WWII were times best known for scarcity and "making-do." FDR was reared in the comfort of family wealth and tradition. Eleanor was social-minded and had no problem breaking all of the rules. Their dinner tables, both public and private, reflected the fact that opposites attract. Confusing, intriguing, well-intentioned, sacrificing, inspired. No one knew what they were going to eat for dinner. Hot dogs served to the Queen of England. Often criticized by period political and culinary experts, FDR's tables were actually a brilliant reflection of his time.
Most of the food-related information published about FDR's Administration concentrates on Eleanor Roosevelt. Sara Roosevelt, FDR's mother, presided as the matriarch of Springwood, Hyde Park. The friction between Eleanor and Sara is well documented. We may actually never know what Franklin, the man, liked to eat.
"The Roosevelts enjoyed hearty, typically American food--like creamed chipped beef, bread puddings, and fried cornmeal mush... Welsh rabbits (or rarebits) were a family favorite for Sunday-night suppers, and cheeses of all types were always on hand for Roosevelt snacks or desserts. The family liked doughnuts both at breakfast and teatime...The President took his breakfast on a tray in his room. His choice of coffee was a dark French roast, prepared in the White House kitchens from green coffee beans. A coffee maker was placed on the President's breakfast tray so that he could regulate the brewing to his satisfaction.... Luncheon was not really a family meal for the President. Very often he would lunch at his desk from a tray...Dinner brought the Roosevelt family together...Sunday-night suppers at the White House were intimate occasions...Supper consisted of Mrs. Roosevelt's scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, or sausage, a dessert and coffee...Mrs. Roosevelt...redesign[ed] the kitchens, equipping them with electric stoves and dishwashers..."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 430-440)
[NOTE: Details on Mrs. Nesbitt, FDR's cook may be found in "Home Cooking in the FDR White House," From Hardtack to Home Fries: A Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals, Barbara Haber (p. 107-130)]
"Left to themselves, the Roosevelts were the plainest sort of people, so far as eating habits went. What we served family fashion in the White House was thet simplest of American cookery, of the standards set my Mrs. Sara Delano Roosevlet, or "Mrs. James," as we call her, and which were preferred by her president son. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt went along with their tastes, since hers didn't run so much to food. But she wanted the best to be given the guests, for, after the President, the White House guest was king... Most of the recipe used came from my own family files, because there wasn't a single recipe card, not even a cookbook, left in the White House when I went in, along with the Roosevelt family, back in 1933. If ever humans were what their eating habits were, it was the Roosevelts. The President and his family liked the hearty, vitamin-filled dishes that are typically America. Regularly we served creamed chipped beef and corned beef hash and poached eggs, because they wanted these dishes, and they liked bread pudding. The loved fried corn-meal mush with maple sirup, sometimes even as a dessert...They desserts they liked best were fruit and cheese...I don't think Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt would ever have ordered a canape themselves. They just weren't the hors- d'oeuvre sort...Caviar was often sent in as gifts by the Russians, and someimes we had presents of pate de foie gras--two delicacies the President liked. he was also very fond of terrapin. These and heavy cream were hsi only luxurious tastes."
---The Presidential Cookbook: Feeding the Roosevelts and Their Guests, Henrietta Nesbitt [DoubleDay & Co.:Garden City NY] 1951 (p. 1-2)
"There never was such a family for soups as the Roosevelts. All the years they occupied the White House we kept the big steel soup kettles singing in the White House--clear soup for dinner and cream soup for lunch. Pretty nearly every usable variety of fish, fowl, beast, mineral, vegetable, and condiment was used in our White House soups...Give Mrs. Roosevelt a bowl of soup and a dish of fruit for lunch and she'd be off with recharged vitality on one of her trips. She always ordered something light for lunch if she was going awa. Cream of almond--L'Amande soup--was one of her special favorites...The President was partial to fish soups... Among the recipes his mother gave me was the one for clam chowder...Another of his favorites was the green turtle soup, and there was always a great fuss when it was made...I remember making it for Will Rogers and other celebrities. We served soup in the White House form eleven in the monring on--for every meal, in fact, except breakfast....We served Fairy Toast with the White House soups. This toast which is sliced even thinner than Melba. We also served toast fingers, which is toast cut in narrow strips, and bread sticks, and sometimes whole-wheat crackers, and saltines."
---ibid (p. 8-9)
"Birthdays, of course, were special White House occasions and we went to great pains with the cakes...We used twenty-one candles always; no one ever grew any odler than that in the White House, at least on their birthdays. We always had angel food for Mrs. Roosevelt's birthday and fruitcake for the President's, the latter made by the old English recipe my husband's mother brought from Ireland. But the original recipe called for currants, which I consider too dry, so I substituted chopped dates. 'Perfectly delicious,' the President always said."
---ibid, (p. 160)
"The Roosevelts liked doughnuts, either at breakfast or teatime, and I made them by the hundreds at Hyde Park. I used to make the Berliner pfann kuchen for the Roosevelts, which are the small round cookie-sized dougnuts without holes and rolled in sugar. Once Mrs. Roosevelt ordered twenty-four dozen of them at one time for the governor's mansion. We served them at the White House too."
---The Presidential Cookbook: Feeding the Roosevelts and Their Guests, Henrietta Nesbitt [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1951 (p. 141)
"We always had angel food for Mrs. Roosevelt's birthday and fruitcake for the President's, the latter made by the old English recipe my husband's mother brought from Ireland...Candy was always brought on with the coffee. Nuts were on the table... Apple pie was the President's preference among pies."---ibid (p. 160-161)
"The Roosevelts liked cheese as an appetizer, in salads, for snacks, and as a main course, or a dessert, and I often thought it was the President's favorite dessert. He liked Camembert, Roquefort, Swiss, Gruyere, and Liederkranz...along with sharp American cheese that was the mainstay of many a meal and also had to be kept on hand for the any-old-hour sandwiches and the Welsh rabbits made for Sunday-night suppers and family buffet."---ibid (p. 138)
"...the Roosevelts were unusually fond of fish...There was nothing the President liked better than Lake Superior whitefish, boned and planked...Lobsters were great favorites of his, and a blessing during the rationing period. We served the cold, stuffed, broiled, boiled, in salad, Imperial, Newburg, Thermidor...Kedigree was served over and over during the thirteen years, and Mrs. Roosevelt liked it best of all. The President loved kippered herring for breakfast, also salt mackerel."---ibid (p. 23-24)
"If there is one cut of meat that bespeaks America to my mind it is steak. When President Roosevelt fell ill...suddenly he spoke the words that made the skies open up again. 'I'd like a steak,' the President said."
---ibid ((p. 50-51)
What did Eleanor Roosevelt like to eat? According to Henrietta Nesbitt, Roosevelt cook, in her book The Presidential Cookbook:
1. Favorite fish dish: Kedgeree
2. Fresh salads (mixed vegetable, fruit, German potato)
3. Favorite lunch: bowl of soup and dish of fresh fruit
4. Favorite supper dish: scrambled eggs in chafing dish, cooked tableside
5. Roast beef, good steaks, chops, roast duck, roast chicken
6. Doughnuts (Berliners) & fresh bread
7. Angel food cake (Eleanor's standard birthday cake)
1. Brussels sprouts
2. Rich desserts, preferring fruit and cheese to finish her meal.
Is it true Eleanor Roosevelt at chocolate-coated garlic pills every morning?
Yes, but we do not know when she started the practice. In her own words:
"Today I still feel that I am largely responsible for keeping myself in good health. My physician, Dr. David Curewitsch, seems to expect his patients to have a certain amount of common sense. I take the vitamin pills he prescribes and also some chocolate-coated garlic pills which are supposed to have a beneficial effect on the memory which is nothing to brag about."
---"Where I get my energy," Eleanor Roosevelt, Harper's Magazine, January 1959 (p. 46)
[NOTE: On the Internet this quote is incorrectly reported as "chocolate coated balls" or "chocolate covered garlic cloves."]
Eleanor Roosevelt's scrambled eggs were a legendary fixture in the Roosevelt family's Sunday suppers.
"The Franklin Roosevelts had a Sunday night ritual that involved the First Lady and was greatly enjoyed by guests who were made to feel a part of the family because of it. Mrs. Roosevelt mnade a chafing dish of scrambled eggs right at the table as guests and family sat talking. But there was a bit more to the menu than that:
(Done at table in chafing dish_
Cold Cuts--Ham, Balogna, and Liverwurst
Mixed Vegetable Salad
Fruit, Cheese, Crackers
FDR liked to play bartender. He liked martinis and would whip them up for his guests on Sunday nights while his wife busied herself with the scrambled eggs."
---A Treasury of White House Cooking, Francois Rysavy [G.P. Putnam's Sons:New York] 1957 (p. 254)
"Mrs. Roosevelt's scrambled eggs are a favorite dish with the President any time. His fondness for them has already paid him handsomely politicaly, for he won a round of grins from a Southern audience recently by assuring them that he preferred scrambled eggs to 'grilled millionare' for breakfast. At Sunday night suppers, besides at breakfast, scrambled eggs are the White House dish. The little ritual, with Mrs. Roosevelt fixing the eggs on a chafing dish at the supper table, has been a famly institution fo years. It was inaugurated by Mrs. Roosevelt as a bride, when her brother...was a regular week-end guest, and has been continued ever since. The chafing dish is already hot when the ceremony begins. The ingredients are at hand. A liberal amount of butter goes into the chafing dish first, then the eggs are cracked and dropped in. Mrs. Roosevelt mixes in about half a pint of milk or cream to a dozen eggs. She adds salt and pepper and beats the mixture vigorously with a fork while it is cooking. Care is taken not to cook them too hard. It is all over in a few minutes. Then the members of the family or whoever else has showed up for Sunday supper, get their scrambled eggs. For larger gatherings the eggs are broken and placed in the chafing dish before it is brought in and placed on the table before Mrs. Roosevelt. For still larger affairs, the eggs are scrambled in the kitchen with careful observance of the recipe, and are brought in to be served by Mrs. Roosevelt."
---"For Gourmets and Others: Fine Points of Egg Dishes," S. Wright, New York Times, January 15, 1939 (p. D7)
"Sunday-night suppers at the White House became a tradition during the Roosevelt administration. The marked the apex of the week, when the Roosevelt family and their friends relaxed for an informal breathing space between one week's affairs and the next. Scrambled eggs were a 'must' on these Sunday nights. Mrs. Roosevelt cooked them herself, in a silver chafing dish, and they were particularly good because she used real cream instead of milk. Coming from Hyde Park, where they had the farm to supply them with the simpler luxuries, the Roosevelts were accustomed to using all the cream they wanted. But when they went into the White House on the crest of the greatest depression in history, and had to set and example of simple simple and substantial meals. We were closely observed...Eggs are health-giving and easily fixed and can be made into many different dishes. We tried them out every way possible in the White House. But through depression and war the President and Mrs. Roosevelt clung to cream. It was about the only luxury left that could be found in sizable quantities. The President liked cream as thick as it could be had in his morning coffee, and Mrs. Roosevelt wanted cream for the scrambled eggs that were served every Sunday night in the White House through three presidential terms and what were enjoyed by all who came.
"Scrambled Eggs in Chafing Dish Mrs. Roosevelt's
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Melt butter in pan, stir in lightly eggs and cream beaten together. Don't overcook. Two eggs to each portion."
---The Presidential Cookbook: Feeding the Roosevelts and Their Guests, Henrietta Nesbitt [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1951 (p. 92-93)
[NOTE: If you would like more recipes from this book please let us know. Mrs. Nesbitt was the Roosevelt's cook. Her recipes are punctuated with personal notes and family favorites.]
1 cup any boiled whitefish, flaked
1 cup boiled rice
2 hard boiled eggs, cut in quarters
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix fish and rice, mostien with cream or fish stock if dry, and saute lightly in melted butter. Must be fluffy. Add salt, pepper, and eggs. Heat thorougly, and serve. All the family liked this dish, especially Mrs. Roosevelt, and we served it over and over. Serves 4."
---The Presidential Cookbook: Feeding the Roosevelts and Their Guests, Henrietta Nesbitt [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1951 (p. 28)
1 cup cake flour--sift before measuring
1 1/4 cups egg whites (10 or 12)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
Sift flour at least twice. Beat egg whites with hand beater until foamy; add cream of tartar and 1 cup of sugar carefully, continuing beating until the whites stand up in peaks. Add flavoring. Sift 1/2 cup sugar with salt and flour and very carefuly fold into whites. Bake in angelcake pan in 375 degree F. oven 30 to 35 minutes."
---The Presidential Cookbook: Feeding the Roosevelts and Their Guests, Henrietta Nesbitt [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1951 (p. 173-174)
Presidential hot dogs?
Fact: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt served hot dogs to dignitaries visiting the Summer White House (Springwood, Hyde Park NY) as early as 1934.
Fact: Some people thought Eleanor purposely served hot dogs in Hyde Park to undermine the authority of Sara, her mother-in-law.
Fact: The King and Queen of England were served hot dogs at FDR's Summer White House on June 11, 1939.
Fact: The Royal couple was not offended by the menu.
You decide: Was the real heat behind the alleged "royal hot dog" incident sparked by jealous family flames or was this a brilliant gesture hoping to unite everyone facing hard economic times?
"A guest list more distinguished than usually graces a formal White House dinner was represented today at a "hot dog" luncheon given by President Roosevelt at his cottage, located two miles from the Summer White House. Thre was no particular reason for the party except that this seemed to be the last opportunity for an al fresco picnic luncheon before the President's departure for Washington sometime next week. As it was, the rain spoiled the picnic plans, and the party was moved into the tiny cottage...Among those present were Bernard M. Baruch...In the meantime the facilities of the small kitchen in the house were being taxed while Mrs. Roosevelt and a group of her friends broiled weiners, baked macaroni and prepared great bowls of mixed vegetable and tomato salad and coffee...Since the picnic obviously could not be held on the lawn, long tables were placed on the screened-on porch of the cottage. A table was set in the living room of the cottage, where the president and his mother, Mrs. Sara Delano Roosevelt, who yesterday celebrated her eightieth birthday, were served. The guests, ranging from prominent ones to chauffeurs, found paper plates, paper cups and knive and forks and filed past the serving tables in line. The various guests of honor were invited to take turns sitting at one table and chatting with the President."
---"President is Host at 'Hot Dog' Feast," New York Times, September 23, 1934 (p. N1)
"President Roosevelt entertained Crown Princess Louise of Sweden and her party atop Dutchess Hill, the site of his future cottage home, this afternoon, and the breezes that whistled thorugh the encircling oaks and pines carried before them the inviting smell of typical American fare--hot dogs and coffee...The hot dogs were served at the insistence of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the president, Mrs. James Roosevelt, the President's 83-year-old-mother, who never eats the American road-side dish, had wanted to serve pork sausages on finger rolls, but these were ruled out by her daughter-in-law, the hostess of the day. The hot dogs, dripping with msutard, were tucked into the familiar rolls. They were washed down by beer. Although she held aloof from the hot dogs, the President's mother clung to a glass of beer. For her, ham and chicken sandwiches were added to the picnic menu."New York Times, July 3, 1938 (p. 1)
"Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, wife of the President, wants to give a picnic for them [the King and Queen of England], with hot dogs if the weather is pleasantly cool, but thermometer should register 100 degrees in the shade, in which case more appropriate refreshments will be provided. There probably will be a picnic, over which at present, however, a 'friendly family argument' is in progress, Mrs. Roosevelt said today."
---"Roosevelts Plan Hot Dogs for King," New York Times, May 18, 1939 (p. 21)
"King George VI ate his first hot dog, was chauffeured by the President of the United States and turned his own hand motion-picture camera against his photographers at a typical Roosevelt picnic party today on the slope of Dutchess Hill, where the Chief Exceuctive's new stone cottage provided an informal backdrop for a high point of the visit of the British sovereigns with the nation's First Family...The King himself clinched the informality of the outing by going swimming with the President in the sping-fed tile pool on the lawn of Mrs. Roosevelt's Val Kill cottage...There were no other swimmers, other guests who came from the picnic to have tea at the Val Kill cottage remaining about the lawn...The royal visitors and the other principal guests did not have to hold paper plates on their laps. Tables had been arranged for them about the front porch under its gently sloping Dutch colonial roof...It was with some obvious misgivings that Mr. McDermott first conceded, in answer to questions, that the King had eaten hot dogs at the picnic. He said that it was safe to assume that the King had done so since he had announced that he had been looking forward to the chance of sampling the favorite American snack. Later it was ascertained that the King not only came back for more hot-dog sandwiches but that he drank beer with them, the beer being served from a top manned by experts from near-by Poughkeepsie. Added to the picnic fare were cold ham from various sections of the country, smoked and plain roast turkey, lettuce and tomato salad, soft drinks, hot and iced coffee and iced tea. The orange and lime soda pop seemed the favorite beverage of those who stood or sat about the lawn or amid the shade trees, although a number of guests followed the example of the King and drank beer."
---"King Tries Hot Dog and Asks for More," New York Times, June 12, 1939 (p. 1)
"Truman was not a picky eater. However, he preferred traditional farm style food like roast and fried chicken. When pushed to comment on his food preferences he one time stated: "Never notice what's put before me. Learned in the army to eat what could be obtained and like it. In my outfit when a man kicked about the food, he was given a chance to improve it. That soon cured the kickers and they took what was put before them and liked it."
---Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
"Like the Roosevelts, the Trumans did not care for elaborate food, but, unlike their predecessors, they demanded it better-cooked. Mrs. Truman was a very good cook and she expected good cooking on her table...she brought with her to the White House Vietta Carr, the family cook from Independence, who whould sometimes prepare special back-home dishes the family particularly liked...The President's breakfast menu remained nearly constant: orange juice, grapefruit, or tomato juice; hot cereal in winter and cold cereal other times; whoe-wheat tast and milk--sometimes buttermilk. The staff had to learn how to make coffee for the Trumans...This attention to detail was typical of Bess Truman's attitude toward food. She gained the reputation of serving the best of home-cooked food, even for guests...President Truman described himself as a "meat and potatoes man," though he was actually a light eater...At one time when the White House was giving a luncheon for Prime Minister Churchill...the President ordered the menu...oysters soup, celery hearts, assorted olives, filet mignon with mushrooms, watermelon pickles, asparagus hollandaise, grilled tomatoes, hard rolls, hearts of lettuce salad with Roquefort dressing, strawberry shortcake...Special family "receipts" were guarded in the "Confindential File."...Harry S. Truman was a Senator long before he was President, and he carried his fondness for [Senators' Bean Soup] from one position to the other...Occasionally the Trumans would birng back from trips home to Missouri some sourghum molasses. It was a family favorite served on cornbread...Cornmeal Dumplings with Turnip Greens...was enjoyed many times at Truman family private suppers."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk and Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 449-454)
[NOTE: Senate Bean Soup recipe]
Need to make something for class? Many of Mrs. Truman's family recipes are online: 1, 2 & 3.
"Bess Truman's Ozark Pudding recipe. This is the copy of the recipe as it was sent out to people who requested it. It comes from the Social Correspondence Office Files of the Truman Papers.
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raw apples, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat egg and sugar a long time until very smooth. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and stir into sugar-egg mixture. Add apples, nuts, and vanilla. Bake in a buttered pie pan in a 350 degree over for 35 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream."
SOURCE: Archivist, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
Dwight D. Eisenhower
President Eisenhower was an accomplished cook who enjoyed preparing food for family and guests. His personal cookbook and favorite foods (with selected recipes), courtesy of the Eisenhower National Museum and Archives.
"The Eisenhowers never acquired the reputation for being gourmets. Mrs. Eisenhower was happy to be with her husband alone at every meal, and many times the President and First Lady took their dinner on trays while watching television. Gossips say the trays contained frozen TV dinners. When the President's health made state dinners too exhausting, elaborate lunches were substituted as the official entertainment for a visiting head of state and his wife...Soup were a favorite dish of the Eisenhowers. The president himself sometimes cooked them...A cold weather favorite of President Eisenhower was...oxtail soup, a truly hearty military dish... [NOTE: chicken noodle soup and cream of celery-clam soup Rysavy are also mentioned.]... General Eisenhower was a frequent guest at the Biddle home in both London and Paris. Three of the distinguished dishes he particularly enjoyed when dining with the Biddles deserve a place in the annals: Biddle boeuf a la mode, boeuf a la mode en gelee, and...cream of artichoke soup...An old Kansas fvorite that President Eisenhower remembered from his early Midwest days, and asked for from the White House kitchen, was succotash...President Eisenhower left the running of the house to his wife, with one exception. He was very fond of cooking an occasional dish of a homely variety. Beef soup was one of his specialties, and he would leave the soup simmering on the stove in the kitchen for hours, causing much mouth-watering among the kitchen staff. As the President and Mrs. Eisenhower differed on the subject of onions (he loved them, she hated them), this was his chance to indulge one of his favorite tastes..The President loved garlic...One of President Eisenhower's favorite desserts was prune whip...Just like every red-blooded American, President Eisenhower was fond of apple pie...Ike preferred his rice pudding cooked the British way, which takes longer than making it from cooked leftover rice...A pitcher of heavy cream passed with dessert is almost an Eisenhower trademark."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk and Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (p. 466-482)
[NOTE: this book contains recipes for all of the items listed above, and more. Your librarian can help you find a copy of this book if you need more details. ]
"We know that General Eisenhower was a hero to his valet because a few years ago Sgt. Mickey said so in a book...Now ex-Sgt. Marty Snyder comes up with another angle: Ike at the groaning board as military and Presidential gourmet. Eisenhower endeared himself to his mess sergeant because he knew and liked good food. Mess Sergeant Snyder first encountered Lieutenant Colonel Eisenhower during the Louisiana maneuvers in '41. The colonel inspected the sergeant's kitchen. Snyder was breaking rules by attempting to make the food tasty. Eisenhower approved the use of the spices that Snyder had bought out of his own pocket. Thus began a friendship and an effort on Snyder's part to become the general's personal chef. He did so in 1944 and discovered a human side to the general that was ennobling. Ike loved to cook himself, to eat simply but experimentally, and to see always that the men on the lower levels were doing okay on the chow line. There are a number of neat anecotes about Eisenhower's knowledge of food and where it comes from. For instance, when a cow was 'captured' and the mess hall men were trying to milk it unsuccessfully, the general came along and in a few moments at the controls filled a large bucket. 'You city slickers have a lot to learn,' Ike said."
---"Mess-Hall Politico," book review, My Friend Ike by Marty Snyder, review by Herbert Mitgang, New York Times, February 19, 1956 (p. BR12)
[NOTE: Mr. Snyder's obituary (New York Times, July 2, 1974 (p. 38) mentions he also prepared meals for Winston Churchil, Ge. Charles de Gaulle and was named "the best mess sergeant" by Stars and Stripes, the Army newspaper. After the war he opened the Headquarters Restaurant (Nyack NY) and later formed Sergeant Marty Snyder Foods, a packaging concern.]
"Eisenhower had several favorite recipes that he cooked for close friends at Camp David and other places of rest and relaxation. I have on cripst White House stationary an original Eisenhower recipe titled 'President Eisenhower's recipe for old-fashioned beef stew.' Alex wiley, a senator from Wisconsin in the 1950s, sent this original recipe to my dear friend chef Milton F. Schoenbaum in Milwaukee...I have taken the liberty of elaborating somewhat on the Eisenhower original by giving more exact measurements than 'bunch small carrots' or 'assorted spices.' But the recipe is authentic. In fact, it's unusual in that it starts with 'washed meat' and adds the roux toward the end--but the result is a good stew, and that's what counts.
President Eisenhower's Old-Fashioned Beef Stew
2 pounds beef round, cubed
2 (12-ounce) cans connsomme
3 tablespoons shortening
3 scant tablespoons flour
1 pound small red potatoes, peeled
2 cups 1-inch carrot pieces
12 small onions
1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes or 1 (8-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon MSG (optional)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1 clove garlic, halved lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, bruised
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns, bruised
2 sprigs parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Wash beef cubes. While still wet, place in large heavy pot over medium heat. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Stir, cover, and continue cooking. Meanwhile, blend consomme with 2 1/2 cans water. Set aside. In saucepan heat shortening. Add flour and stir over medium heat until mixture turns medium brown. Remove from heat and add 1 cup connsome water mixture, stirring to blend. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups more liquid until roux is smooth. Set aside. Add potatoes, carrots, onions and tomatoes to meat. Stir in salt to taste, pepper and MSG. Make bouquet garni by tying thume, bay leaves, garlic, black and white peppercorns and parsley in square of cheesecloth with long string. Add bouquet garni to pot along with remaning consomme. Cover and simmer 30 to 45 minutes until beef and vegetables are tender. Into roux stir some of hot liquid from stew pot until smooth and liquid. Stir warmed roux mixture into stew. Cover and cook over low heat another 30 minutes. Serve with crusty French bread. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
To make a meal of it, start with something light, such as a half a grapefruit, and follow with a good piece of Midwestern cheese and a fine pear or apple.
WINE TIP: It was never much of a secret that Eisenhower enjoyed a glass of red wine with his favorite food, beef. It tried but could not discover his favorite wine. But as I understand it, he preferred burgundy types."
---"An Eisenhower Favorite: Getting into a Hot Political Stew," Louis Szathmary, Los Angeles Times, March 10, 1983 (p. N41)
[NOTE: Chef Szathmary's impressive culinary archives is housed by the Univeristy of Iowa Libraries. His presidential collection is at Johnson & Wales Library Providence RI.]
John F. Kennedy
Thanks to Mrs. Kennedy, official White House Kennedy tables compared favorably to Jefferson's: classic French cuisine reigned supreme. Trendy Americans embraced everything French. James Beard and Julia Child taught us how to cook. This makes us wonder: did our 35th president truly love French food (as Jefferson), or did he prefer something different when dining in private?
"We can not verify that this was President John F. Kennedy's favorite breakfast, but he did prefer orange juice, poached eggs on toast, crisp broiled bacon, marmalade, milk and coffee. For lunch, President Kennedy was particularly fond of soup--New England Fish Chowder was a favorite. He has been described as a "soup, sandwich and fruit" man for lunch--always soup though. For dinner there were no particular favorites, although he did like lamb chops, steak, baked chicken and turkey (white meat) and don't forget mashed potatoes. He also was fond of seafood and baked beans. According to chefs who worked in the White House, President Kennedy liked corn muffins too---so did Calvin Coolidge. For dessert, if he had it, it would likely be chocolate. President Kennedy was a small eater; he often had to be reminded that it was dinner time... politics always took preference over food."
---John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
"A bowl of vichysoisse and chicken in champagne sauce are what President John F. Kennedy orders most often in New York restaurants. Fred Decre of La Caravelle restaurant has prepared those dishes many times for Mr. Kennedy, who also asked the chef to pack them for two of his airplane trips during the recent campaign. Mr. Kennedy's taste in food is relatively sophisticated."
---"Food News: Done to the Tastes of the Presidents," June Owen New York Times, January 21, 1961 (p. 22)
About Mrs. Kennedy's entertaining style
"Not since the days of Dolley Madison had the White House been the scene for such brilliant entertaining as was done by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and her history-conscious husband, John F. Kennedy - and not since the days of Thomas Jefferson, America's first gourmet of renown, had more serious thought been given to White House standards of food and drink....Mrs. Kennedy had a distinct preference for French cooking, and soon after moving into the White House, began looking for a chef to add the inimitable French touch. She subsequently lured Rene Verdon, the French expert, away from the Carlyle Hotel in New York to preside over the White House kitchens. The French flavor he added to state dinners was an instant success."
---JFK Library & Museum
"Mrs. Kennedy...had tastes as cosmopolitan as my own...The President's tatse were somewhat heartier, when he was permitted to indulge them...Mr. Kennedy was very fond of the tiny quiches he had for his lunch...President Kennedy...did enjoy...cold beer. Mrs. Kennedy favored the daiquiri."
---The White House Chef Cookbook, Rene Verdon [Doubleday:Garden City NY] 1967 (p. 22-24)
[NOTE: We own this book. Very happyt to scan/send anything you want. We also own Verdon's French Cooking for the American Table (c. 1974).]
"Soup was a dish close to the heart of President Kennedy, since it gave him an opportunity to be served the fish for which his New England background had given him a special appreciation. He dearly loved Boston clam chowder, and asked me to prepare it for him on many occasions...I did everything I could to satisfy Mr. Kennedy's New England liking for good fish cookery. Quite naturally, as a Catholic, he had it every Friday...I suspect the President also would have liked to have had another favorite, Boston baked beans, served to him in the White House, but as I have pointed out, the demands of a more formal cuisine would not permit it."
---ibid (p. 50-51)
"At the White House...the Kennedys were not especially fond of the more elaborate egg dishes. Mrs. Kennedy's customary breakfast was orange juice, scrambled eggs, two strips of bacon, a little honey and a glass of skimmed milk. Occasionally she had tea or coffee instead. Little John often had breakfast with her, and usually ate all her honey and bacon, but she did not seem to mind... she was not in any case a large eater. The President's breakfast seldom varied. Nearly every day he had a large glass of orange juice, toast with jam, two four-and-a-half minute eggs, some strips of broiled bacon and coffee with cream and sugar....Mr. Kennedy shared his wife's liking for souffles, especially at luncheon."
---ibid (p. 69)
"A favorite chicken dish of the Kennedys in their family dining room...was Poulet a l'Estragon--that is, chicken with tarragon."
---ibid (p. 112)
"Nothing could be more unpretentious than the spectacle of the first family at luncheon on the occasional days when there was no state function. They had it in their quarters, often from trays. Typically, the luncheon might consist of cups of consomme, and cold beef or grilled cheese sandwiches."
---ibid (p. 206)
"President Kennedy's New England Fish Chowder
2 pounds haddock
2 cups water
2 ounces salt pork, diced
2 onions, sliced
4 large potatoes, diced
1 cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart milk
2 tablespoons butter
Simmer the haddock in the water for 15 minutes. Drain. Reserve the broth. Remove the bones from the fish. Saute the pork until crisp, remove from pan, and set aside. Saute the onions in the pork fat until golden brown. Add the fish, potatoes, celery, bay leafy, salt, and pepper. Pour in fish broth, plus enough boiling water to make 3 cups liquid. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the milk and butter, and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve the chowder sprinkled with pork dice. Serves 6."
---A Treasury of White House Cooking, Francois Rysavy [G.P. Putnam's Sons:New York] 1972 (p. 210-211)
"Quiche Lorraine (6 servings per 9-inch pie shell)
Crust (for 3 pastry shells)
4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
1. Place flour, butter and salt into large bowl and work together with hands until smooth. Add eggs and water and work with hands until of rolling consistency.
2. Divide dough into 3 equal portions and refrigerate 2 portions for future use. Roll remaining pastry out on floured pastry board to about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Place pastry in a 9-inch pie tin and crimp edges. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
8 strips bacon
1/2 cup diced Swiss cheeese
1/4 cup diced ham
1 1/2 cups light cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1. Fry bacon until crisp, and drain. Crush bacon over the bottom of the pie shell.
2. Sprinkle Swiss cheese and ham over bacon in pie shell.
3. Place cream, spices and eggs in blender container; cover and run on high speed until thoroughly mixed. Pour over bacon, cheese and ham in pie shell. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and mixture is set. Serve warm."
---The White House Chef Cookbook, Rene Verdon [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1967 (p. 43-44)
[NOTE: Chef Verdon was the White House executive chef during the Kennedy years.]
Lyndon B. Johnson
LBJ was famous for bringing Texas-style barbecue to the White House.
"Barbecue meals come in every size, shape and form...to come up with a menu that will never do you wrong, the eal I would choose is the one that President Johnson likes best...Texas Beef Barbecue with Natural Gravy, Smoked Ranch Beans, Cooked Country Corn, Country Potato Salad, Texas Cole Slaw, Sliced Dill Pickle Spears, Spanish Sweet Onions, Modern Day Sourdough Biscuits, Fried Apple Pies, Six-Shooter Coffee, Soft Drinks. Over and above this basic meal, the President usually has some add-ons. He likes these to be served as snacks before the main feed...Barbecue Spareribs, Barbecue Shrimp, East Texas Hot Guts (a sausage)...the President likes the spareribs best of all."
---Walter Jetton's LBJ Barbecue Cook Book, Walter Jetton with Arthur Whitman [Pocket Books Inc.:New York] 1965 (p. 9-10)
[NOTE: Walter Jetton was the LBJ's caterer.]
LBJ's favorite foods courtesy of the LBJ Library and Museum.
"The typical morning meal prepared in the White House for president Jonson consisted of his favorite chipped beef covered with cream, and a cup of hot tea...Mrs. Johnson loved breakfast foods, including eggs and omelets, pancakes and waffles, even grits... Mrs. Johnson can be credited with bringing back old-fashioned home-style cooking to the White House. She was a strong advocate of serving home-baked bread...The family's affinity for plain biscuits led Mrs. Johnson to include Hot Biscuits on breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus...President Johnson enjoyed snacking on Hot Biscuits stuffed with ham or his favorite deer sausage... President Johnson liked his Texas-style dishes...President Johnson liked [Beef Stroganoff] along with other soft-textured meat dishes such as...lamb hash, chicken chow mein, and chop suey...Seafood Creole..as one of President Johnson's favorites, as he really loved seafood...Spinach was one of President Johnson's favorite vegetables. He especially enjoyed vegetable dishes prepared in unusual forms, such as light spinach souffle...President Johnson preferred his salad chopped so fine that he could eat it with a spoon. He was a very rapid eater...This hard-working President was grateful for dishes he could eat quickly and still enjoy... President Johnson was very fond of tapioca pudding...He preferred his pudding cold, served without any topping...Spanish Cream... was a real favorite of President Johnson...As long as a dessert tasted sweet, President Johnson would eat it...Even though the American public seemed to believed that the Johnsons dined on Texas-style food on a daily basis, the family typically reserved tacos, chalupas, and nachos for dinner parties and special events. The Johnsons liked to share their own regional cooking with their guests...The Johnson administration was noted for barbecues, but it was the quality of the food served-- rather than the number of events conducted--which was the real reason for the reputation. In fact...they were the first famiy to conduct a cookout at the White House...[President Johnson] was exceptionally enthusiastic about Eggplant Nicoise..."
---The White House Family Cookbook, Henry Haller [Random House:New York] 1987 (p. 3-67)
"...with the Johnsons steak of all foods, reigns supreme. It is served for breakfast, for lunch, and for state dinners (though certainly not all in the same day)...Inf act, at the Presidential inaugual lunchoen, Texas heart of filet mignon was served... the dinner before the big inaugural ball was a private one, in which bouillon, sirloin, spinach, potatoes, mixed green salad, and Baked Alaska were served...The President's food preferences seem to veer toward simple classics, well prepared by the family cook of twenty-odd years, Mrs. Zephyr Wright...When a huge Texas steak isn't on the table, Southern fried chicken often is, along with spoonbread, popovers, or other home-baked rolls. Mrs. Wright makes brownies frequently, but the President's very favorite dessert is an old-fashioned homemade ice cream...Lady Bird favors simple dishes, and is partial to deer bacon, pickled okra, turkey dressing, and spareribs. All the Johnsons are great milk consumers. After the blessing at the beginning of each meal, Mrs. Johnson usually asks "Sweet milk or buttermilk?" and pours form the appropriate pitcher. It is almost a ritual. LBJ himself is a buttermilk addict..."
---The Presidents' Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968(p. 510-513)
"No president except Jefferson relished a greater variety of flavors in cookery than Lyndon B. Johnson. He liked every style of cooking, and there was a saying in the White House kitench that BJ 'will eat anything toat doesn't bite him first.' He was especially partial to German food, Southern style cooking and French haute cuisine, but his greatest love was special Mexican foods. At receptions at the White House, Lady Bird Johnson would sigh and shake her head as she saw her husband break his diet and reach into a bowl of fiddle-faddle. He simply could not resist the combinations of nuts and popcorn held together by syrup...Only a person like Johnson could have got away with entertaining a visiting chief of state at a giant outdoor barbecue, as he did German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, and made it appear a perfectly natural thing to do...It as said around the White House that to LBJ, a week without chili in some form was a week wasted."
---A Treasury of White House Cooking, Francois Rysavy [G.P. Putnam's Sons:New York] 1972 (p. 194-195)
Lyndon B. Johnson's Pedernales River Chili
4 pounds coarsely ground chuck or round steak
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5 shakes liquid hot sauce (or more, to suit taste)
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 tesaspoon comino seed
6 teaspoons chili powder (more if needed)
2 No. 2-1/2 cans tomatoes
2 No. 2-1/2 cans kidney beans
2 cups hot water
Salt to taste
Put meat, onion, and garlic in large heavy boiler or skillet. Sear until light-colored. Add hot sauce, oregano, comino, chili powder, tomatoes, beans and hot water. Bring to a bil, lower heat, and simmer about 1 hour. Add salt and more liquid hot sauce, to taste toward end of cooking. As fat cooks out, skim. Serve with a side dish of jalapeno peppers if you want to eat them LNJ's favorite way, but they might be too strong if you tend toward ulcers. Sometiems the President ordered the chili made without beans to cut calories. Serves 8 to 10. Another chili recipe that President Johnson relished was one made by a family friend--Scooter Miller."
---A Treasury of White House Cooking, Francois Rysavy [G.P. Putnam's Sons:New York] 1972 (p. 50)
[NOTE: Scooter's Dallas Jailhouse Chili appears on p. 195. Happy to scan/send if you like.]
"Ranch Apple Fried Pies
President Johnson likes these and so does just about everbody else....
1 pound dried apples
1 pound butter
1 pound sugar
1/2 cup orange, sliced thin
1/4 lemon, sliced thin
Tough pastry, rolled out
Cover apples, orange and lemon with water and cook over the fire for about 15 minutes--until they are tender. Remove from the heat and add butter and sugar, mixing well. Let the ranch apple mixture chill. NOw roll out your pastry and cut it in 4-inch circles. Add 2 tablespoons of the apple mixture to each circle and fold it over. Press the edges together and fry in deep fat until brown."
---Walter Jetton's LBJ Barbecue Cook Book, Walter Jetton with Arthur Whitman [Pocket Books Inc.:New York] 1965 (p. 77)
Lady Bird Johnson's recipes. Poppy Cannon's The Presidents' Cookbook offers these recipes: Pompano Moro (fish dish). Barbeque Spareribs A La Lady Bird, Texas Fried Chicken, LBJ's Pedernales River Chili, Ranch Turkey and Lady Bird's Cornbread Dressing, Lady Bird's Lima Bean Specialite, Lady Bird's Spinach Souffle, Asparagus Bari, Western Salad, Zephyr's Old-Fashioned Fruit Ice Cream, and LBJ's Double Divinity Fudge. Henry Haller's The White House Family Cookbook adds Chipped Beef on Toast, Hot Biscuits, Chili Con Carne, Deer Sausage, Beef Stroganoff, Seafood Creole, Spinach Souffle, Dilled Okra, President Johnson's Chopped Garden Salad, Tapioca Pudding, Lynda and Luci's Brownies, Texas-Style Barbecued Ribs, Flowerpot Sundaes (favories of Luci & Lynda) and recipes for both daughters' wedding cakes. Get the books at your local public library or ask us to scan/send.
Richard M. Nixon
The Nixon family preferred modest American fare: fresh salads, California fruit, cottage cheese and yes, of course, THE meatloaf. It is possible these choices reflected Mr. Nixon's Quaker heritage.
"[Nixon] likes ketchup on his cottage cheese but his favorite food is meat loaf...His breakfast is served by Fina Sanchez, wife of Manolo, both Castillians who came to New York via Cuba and live in the servants' quarters of the Nixon apartment. Nixon's breakfast fare is always the same: Fresh orange juice, half a grapefruit, cold cereal and skim milk and coffee. Sometimes Mrs. Nixon...joins him for coffee...The President-elect's working suite at the Pierre consists of a large drawing room, a bedroom, dressing room, bath, office study and entrance foyer. The first thing Nixon does after depositing his coat in the closet is ring for a cup of coffee--his second of the morning. He is not a chronic coffee drinker, a staff aide explained, but he does offer coffee to his visitors throughout the day and he, of course, drinks a cup with them. As he drinks his first cup at the office, he goes over the things on his desk...He is never without a tape recorder within reach on which to record his thoughts and ideas on whatever subject pops into his mind or comes up in a conversation...'The ideas he dictates into the machines and the memos are fantastic,' says Rose Mary Woods, his long-time, loyal secretary...Nixon...is a weight-watcher but he does it unconsciously, says Miss Woods. His watching is most evident at lunch when he eats at when he eats at his desk. He has cottage cheese and fruit--it varies from day to day--peaches, pears or oranges--from the hotel's kitchen. Occasionally he deviates and has a hamburger and a cup of coffee. Once a week, he goes out for luncheon, usually with a long time personal friend and perhaps one or both of his daughters. A favorite place for these occasions is the chic La Cote Basque Restaurant...Occaionally he works at his office right through dinner. When he does, Manolo fixes him a late dinner at home from that Fina has left in the refrigerator or on the stove. More often, he leaves the Pierre at 6:30 p.m. and enjoys the less-than-five-minute walk in the evening air to his apartment. Once there, he turns on the stereo and keeps music of all types--particularly show tunes he especialy likes--playing until he retires hours later. Sometimes he goes to the den and mixes himself a drink, his first of the day. 'He drinks very infrequently,' a staff aide said...Nixon is ready for dinner by 7 p.m. and the famly dines by candlelight in the large formal dining room with soft music in the background. The menu is totaly unimportant to the President-elect. 'Dick eats everything but he likes meat loaf,' Mrs. Nixon said. Her meat loaf recipe calls for half beef and half pork. 'I have never seen him turn anything down. If he is particuarly pleased with what he has, he'll call Fina and Manolo in to tell them how good it is.'"
---"How Nixon Lives, What He Likes," Marie Smith Washington Post, January 17, 1969 (p. B1)
"A few weeks before their arrival, the Nixons sent advance men to the White House to discuss the new First Family's needs, likes and dislikes, and life-style...The new First Family liked simple American foods and ethnic dishes...The entire [Nixon] Family was partial to dishes made with fresh produce from California and Florida, including ripe avocadoes... In the summer time, Mrs. Nixon liked a salad in which slices of the smooth-skinned Forida avocado were alternated with fresh grapefuit secions to make a light luncheon plate...Mrs. Nixon...was very conscious of her diet and chose to eat healthful meals...During the humid Washington summers, the Nixons preferred luncheon menus built around cold foods. They enjoyed cold soups like gazpacho, cold cucumber and other mousses, cold poached salmon, and especially cold seafood plates. With cold shrimp and crab, the Nixons liked a special red cocktail souce made with catsup...The Nixons were also fond of another seafood dish, the Mississippi Platter, which was made with fresh tuna or shrimp, lobster, and crab served on a bed of iceberg lettuce and garnished with sliced hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes, radish roses, and crisp coleslaw...President Nixon liked to lunch on...spicy Pepperoni Salad...president Nixon ate small portions, avoided snacking, and made up for immoderate eating at gourmet State Dinners with light menus for subsequent meals...President Nixon often requested a light luncheon tray served in his office. A cottage cheese plate because his regular noontime meal, servie with Rye Crisp and sometimes fresh fruit in season...If the President ever doused his cottage cheese with catsup, I never saw him, and doubt he ever did. Yet the rumoured "recipe" became rather popuar with the dieting American Public...For breakfast, the President liked fresh fruit, wheat germ with nondairy creamer, and coffee...The whole family liked light luncheons, often salads...Desserts were typically reserved for special family occasions and meals attended by guests. Family dinner menus followed Mrs. Nixon's preferred pattern: meat or chicken, potato or pasta, vegetables and/or salad, dessert by request. A first course was waived--except for the family's favored Baked Grapefruit and occasionally a fresh fruit cup or clams on the half shell. Desserts, if any, consisted of fruits native to California and Florida. Dinner was served promptly at 6:00P.M....One of the Nixons' favorite dinner meals was the boiled corned beef and cabbage dish...On the evening of the President's inauguration, Mrs. Nixon phoned the Main Kitchen to order the First Family's first White House diner: four steaks...and 'just a bowl of cottage cheese. The kitchen had been warned about the First Family's fondness for steak, so a selection of prime cuts was already on hand. But no one had alerted the White House about the Nixons' penchant for cottage cheese... An advernturous member of the kitchen crew volunteered to drive a White House limo around...in search of cottage cheese. Fortunately, the mission was a success...Italian dishes were always a favorite on the Nixon's family dinner menus, with lasagna a close second to spaghetti. Since the Nixons liked beef, meatballs and/or meat sauce always adorned their pastas. Warm Italian bread, a green salad and a good red wine typically rounded out the meal...The Nixons also enjoyed other ethnic fare, including Chinese and Mexican food...On the rare occasions when he did indulge, Preseident Nixon consumed his very favorite, very rich fooods, such as Beef Stroganoff, Beef Wellington...Duckling a l'Orange...Homard a l'Americaine (lobster sauteed in oil and tomatoes...President Nixon loved the taste of macadamia nuts..."
---The White House Family Cookbook, Henry Haller [Random House:New York] 1987(p. 71-149)
"In the eyes of the American public, barbecued beef was supplanted by mundate meat loaf when the Nixons replaced the Johnsons in the nation's First Home. Although the Presidents' personal tastes have often been exaggerated, President Nixon was quite fond of his wife's meat loaf, and meat loaf appeared about once a month on hte fmaily dinner menus. As soon as the pulbic became aware of this fact, the White House was inundated with inquires for the recipe that so pleased the presidential palate. To ease my burden, Mrs. Nixon's meat loaf recipe was printed on White House stationery to be sent in response to the thousands of requests...other recipes that proved popular iwth the public included Mrs. Nixon's Continental Salad with Sesame Seed Dressing, Tricia's Chicken Divan, Tricia's Chicken Imperial, Julie's Spanish Eggs, Mrs. Nixon's Chestnut and Apple Stuffing, Apricot Nut Bread, Ham Mousees, and Barbecued Chicken."
---ibid (p. 84-85)
"Pat Nixon's meatloaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 slices white bead
1 cup milk
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
- Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.
- Melt butter in a saute pan, add garlic and saute until just golden -- do not brown. Let cool.
- Dice bread and soak it in milk.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix ground beef by hand with sauteed onions and garlic and bread pieces. Add eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, thyme and marjoram and mix by hand in a circular motion.
- Turn this mixture into the prepared baking pan and pat into a loaf shape, leaving at least one inch of space around the edges to allow fat to run off.
- Brush the top with the tomato puree and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to penetrate and to firm up the loaf.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake meatloaf on lower shelf of oven for 1 hour, or until meat is cooked through. Pour off accumulated fat several times while baking and after meat is fully c ooked. Let stand on wire rack for five minutes before slicing. Makes 6 servings."
Several banquets celebrated Nixon's visit to China in 1972. Some were hosted by the Chinese government; others by the American nationals. The New York Times published a general description of the banquet given by Premier Cho En Lai for President Nixon on February 21, 1972. This article included a basic menu:
"Throughout an eight-course three-hour banquet in President Nixon's honor a band mingled Chinese folk songs with such Americana as "Home on the Range,"...During the sumptuous banquet in the Great Hall of the People, Premier Chou En-lai sat betwen Mr. and Mrs. Nixon at a huge circular head table beneath enormous floodlit flags of the United States and the People's Republic of China. A battalion of white-jacketed waiters served. The President seemed more deft in manipulating the ivory chopsticks than he did in holding aloft the successive glasses of crystal-clear, mao-tai, the sourghum-based Chinese liqueur...Each place there was a set of chopsticks as well as a knife and fork, although most of the Americans used the chopsticks. There was a constant rotation of dishes of blue and white in the traditional Chinese style. Each person had something like two dozen pieces passed to him. The head table was the only one that had 20 people at it--all the others had 10. The center was decorated with a field of grasses with kumquats planted on them. The Menu: Hors d'oeurvres (including aged eggs, bacon and small carp in vinegar sauce and other delicacies), Spongy bamboo shoots ad egg-white consomme, Shark's fin in three shreds, Freid and stewed prawns, Mushroom and mustard greens, Steamed chicken with coconut, Almond junket, Pastries, Fruits (north China tangerines)."
---"Home on the Range Spices the Three Hour Banquet," New York Times, February 22, 1972 (p. A15)
"You couldn't tell much from the terse menus at printed at the two banquets the Nixons have attended this week in Peking. So, at first some peopel thought the Presidential party was getting short shrift--simple dishes and too few courses....an American who has been at both state dinners, Max Frankel, the New York Times Washington Bureau chief, has cleared up a great deal of conclusion. During a telephone call yesterday from Peking, he reinforced the always logical view that the foremost kitchen in China knows how to cook Chinese food. According to Mr. Frankel, the food at both meals in the Great Hall of the People, was of consistently high quality and many more dishes were served than were included on the official menus. Politically and professionally impartial soruces in this country have also stressed that the much maligned first banquet, hosted by Premier Chou En-lai, was a perfectly legitimate example of that rarified area of Chinese gastronomy--classic cuisine. With few exceptions, the dishes the Nixons ate that first night are never served in America. The banquet stressed purity and elegance of taste and, particularly, texture. Shark's fin and almond junket are two examples of this, basically bland foods, which, like th ancient eggs also served, delight the ultra-refined Chinese palate by their feel and sublety rather than the pyrotechnics of their preparation. "The food is vastly more interesting and delicate than the kind of mixture you tend to get in the United States"..."
---"The Menus at Peking Banquets Didn't Do Justice to the Foods," Raymond A. Sokolov, New York Times, February 26, 1972 (p. 34)
[NOTE: This article also describes the menu hosted by the Nixons.]
President Nixon also liked ice cream!
"President Nixon lived it up at one of Florida's best fish resturants, and he enjoyed himself so much that he stopped on the way home for an ice-cream sundae. The President, accompanied by confident Charles (Bebe) Rebozo and special counsel Charles Colson, dined on Florida stone crabs, pompano, craab-meat pate, asparagus, broccoli and baked potato shells at the Hasta, in Coral Gables, and washed down his dinner with a good French chablis. One the way home, he sent Rebozo out to an ice-cream store to get him a coconut-ice cream sundaae, topped with pineapple. While Rebozo was getting the sundae, the President stood beside his car, passing out autographed cards and chatting with proprietor Paul Bleustein, who said he had voted for Mr. Nixon. 'Is business good?--it should be,' asked the President. 'It's slow this year,' replied Bleusteikn. 'Your spririt has got to be up--up, up, up,' said the president."
---"Nixon Lives it up in Florida," Washington Post, December 2, 19727 (p. A10)
Need to make something for class?
White House chef Henry Haller confirmed the Nixons loved fresh California and Florida fruits. Fruit salad is perfect. The book contains dozens of tasty recipes. Desserts are generally the most portable. The Nixon section of the White House Family Cookbook offers recipes for these family favorites: Sponge Cake, Apple Charlotte, Boston Cream Pie, Tricia's Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Sequoia Brownies. Francois Rysavy's A Treasury of White House Cooking offers these family favorites: Broiled Grapefruit, Pat's Corn Souffle, Pat Nixon's Angel Pie, President Nixon's Favorite Tamale Pie, Pat Nixon's Avocado Salad, and Glorified Rice A La Nixon. Your local public librarian will be happy to help you get a copy of this book. If you have a really short deadline (due tomorrow?) let us know which recipe you want. We can fax or scan.
"Tricia's Chocolate Chip Cookies
After the pastry chef learned that Tricia Nixon often craved cookies, the White House kitchen was continually stocked with several different kinds of freshly baked treats...Tricia delighted in sampling everything baked by the White House pastry chef...
Makes 50 cookies
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets and dust lightly with flour.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar. Beat in egg, egg white, and salt.
3. In a small bowl, dissolve in water; add to batter, and stir in vanilla.
4. Stir in flour until well-blended.
5. Fold in chocolate chips; do not overmix.
6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets; leave 1 1/2 inches between cookies to allow for spreading.
7. Bake on lower shelf of preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden.
8. Let cool on wire racks before serving; store in an airtight container."
---White House Family Cook Book,(p. 116-117)
"...President Ford had a healthy appetite and simple tastes. For breakfast, the President usually consumed...freshly squeesed orange juice, a piece of fresh fruit such as melon, one or two toasted English muffins with margarine and jam, and hot tea. Sunday breakfast was...a special meal...with the President's favorite: Golden Brown Waffles served with "the works"--strawberries and sour cream....The entire family joined the President in his enthusiasm for the hearty breakfast dish we caled the German Apple Pancake...Mrs. Ford requested that the kitchen serve bread baked fresh each day from her own recipe...Mrs. Ford's recipe yeilds a dense white bread that is perfect for toasting...[crab] soup became a favorite on the Ford family's dining table. The Fords often requested simple luncheon of soup and homemade bread...The menu for the Fords' first family dinner in the White House--prime rib, parsleyed new potatoes, green beans, salad, and ice cream-served as a reliable indicator of the meal that would follow. The Fords preferred plain all-American food, simple dishes that were hearty and nutritious...President Fod preferred a salad made with crisp Boston lettuce and finely sliced red onion, tossed with a small quantity of a peppery French dressing...family dinner favorites included...spareribs with sauerkraut, spaghetti and meatballs, burgers wrapped in bacon, liver and onions, and various casseroles. Dinner was typical served with a lighly cooked vegetable and a tossed salad. The Fords usually skipped a first course and included dessert only by request, for which the White House kitchen kept...fresh fruit and ice cream on hand... One of President Ford's favorite vegetables was cabbage...The Fords liked very lean pork chops simmered in red wine and served midewestern-style with braised red cabbage and apples...Prseident Ford requested that the sugar bowl be removed from the dining table as a symbol of their support for public protest against inflated sugar prices. One of the Fords' few dessert requests was for... lemon-flavored pudding...Susan's favorite treat was...Strawberry Shortcake...President Ford was very fond of fresh strawberries..."
---The White House Family Cookbook, Henry Haller [Random House:New York] 1987 (p. 153-225)
Down-home southern style family fare. Interesting and unpretentious. What better way to describe the Carter family table?
"When the Carters lived in the White House, the President usualky arose around 5:30A.M., sipping on some freshly squeezed juice and hot coffee before heading for the Oval Office. After a few hours at his desk, President Carter was served a light breakfast, typically fresh fruit and buttered toast...[Amy and Mrs. Carter] liked to share fruit juice, scrambled or poached eggs, and toast. Breakfast cereals were served alternately with the eggs, plus fresh fruit in season from time to time...One of the Carters'favorite [Sunday] breakfast menus included Country-Style Ham with Redeye Gravy, scrambled eggs and baked grits, freshly baked Corn Bread and hot Fried Apples...For the most part, the Carters preferred simple, wholesome, down-home dishes. They were not "big eaters," but they were not "picky" about their food either...In adujsting each menu plan to suit her family's schedule and personal tastes, Mrs. Carter often took the time to describe a family favorite, so that the kitchen staff would prepare these dishes just the way the Carters liked them. One of the Carters' favorite Southern-style side dishes was "red and white," or Red Beans and Rice......When they were first married, Jimmy Carter taught Rosalynn some of his favorite recipes. Mrs. Carter became an enthusiastic cook, and the young couple often prepared dishes together as a form or relaxation...The Carters liked homemade soups, especially when served with sandwiches or warm homemade breads...Two of the family [sandwich] favorites included country ham with cheddar cheese, and grilled cheddar with bacon and tomato. Amy's favorite sandwich was cold meat loaf on white bread, which she often requested as part of her school lunch...Amy carried her lunch to school in a paper bag...[Amy's] favorite foods included hamburgers and pizza, ice cream and cookies...Whether dinning alone or with family and friends, the Carters preferred simple dinners that included lots of vegetables...They liked their vegetables served plain, raw or lightly steamed. The Carters also enjoyed eating salads...President Carter was not partial to rich sauces, nor did he like most commercial condiments...One of President Carter's favorite dishes was a chicken and vegetable stew...The Carters conintued to enjoy Southern-style barbecues as White House residents...President Carter preferred serving spicy spare ribs...On Sunday nights, the entire White House kitchen staff was off-duty. To cut some expenses and give the staff a break the Carters prepared their own supper that night, typically an informal meal consisting mainly of leftovers, usually sandwiches. President Carter was fond of Pork chops with corn bread stuffing...Plain chicken dishes turned out to be some of the Carters' favorite menu selections for family dinners. President Carter was especially fond of baked chicken breasts stuffed with cheddar cheese, and fried chicken made "Southern-style"....Butternut squash, zucchini, butter beans, vine-ripe tomatoes, and fries corn were some of President Carter's favorite vegetables. He also liked greens such as collards and kale, and he even enjoyed a number of dishes made with okra...But eggplant was undoubtedly Jimmy Carter's favorite vegetable. The President liked fresh eggplant straight out of the garden, thinly sliced and batter-fried, or baked in a souffle or casserole...Peanuts were the Carters' family symbol long before they became White House residents. They enjoyed eating peanuts, plain or as an ingredient...but no more than the typical family."
---The White House Family Cookbook, Henry Haller [Random House:New York] 1987(p. 230-323)
The Grits Factor
"Even before they had settled into the White House, reports in the press began to highlight the Carters' Southern style of life. The public was forewarned that the White House would soon serve grits to guests...For the Carters' first breakfast in the White House, grits were included on the menu. A staple dish for the Carters and their Southern visitors, grits soon became standard fare for White House guests from all over the world. The White House kitchen had quickly realized that many of the Carters' distinguished visitor really expected to be served grits, and most were pleasantly surprised to discover they actually liked the taste of the ground hominy dish...President Carter liked grits baked with cheese, so the dish was often included on the family's weekend breakfast menu."
---The White House Family Cookbook, Henry Haller [Random House:New York] 1987(p. 229-230)
What else was served at the White House? Selected Menus for State Dinners during the Carter Administration.
Need to make something for class?
Henry Haller's White House Family Cookbook offers dozens of tasty choices. Corn bread is portable and easy to make (p. 277-278):
"Carters' Corn Bread
Makes 9 squares
1 cup flour
1/2 cup white cornmeal
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter inside of an 8-inch square baking pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, yellow and white cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar.
3. In a smaller mixing bowl, beat egg with warm milk, using a wire whisk. Stir in melted butter.
4. Pour over dry ingredients and mix with the wire whisk until smooth. Let stand for 15 minutes. (It is important to let batter rest before baking so that the cornmeal absorbs the liquid and the resulting texture is smooth, never grainy.)
5. Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Bake on lower shelf of preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until top is golden and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
6. Let pan stand on a wire rack for 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve warm, with whipped butter, if desired."
Need more recipes? We recommend: Miss Lillian and Friends: The Plains, Georgia, Family Philosophy and Recipe Book, as told to Beth Tartan and Rudy Hayes . Your local public librarian can get you a copy. NOTE: The Carter family is often associated with peanuts. DO NOT BRING PEANUTS TO CLASS UNLESS YOUR TEACHER SAYS IT'S OKAY. Some people are very allergic to peanuts and they can get very sick if exposed.
"The Reagans typically eat breakfast together at 7:45 A.M., and their menu is as consistent as it is sensible. The nutrition-conscous First lady is aware of the importance of including adequate amounts of fiber-rich foods in the diet, and of minimizing intake of fat and cholesterol. Therefore, the Reagans start the day with bran cereal, skim milk, fresh fruit, and decaffeinated coffee. Once a week, eggs are served--scrambled, poached, or soft-boiled for our minutes--a single egg for each of them. The President usually supplements his morning repast with whole wheat toast or a home-made muffin...Monkey Bread is a heavy, sweet loaf that serves as a Reagain family tradition...Reserved for special occasions and holidays, Monkey Bread is a definate deviation from the lighter fare preferred by the First Lady...When bread is included on the Reagan family dinner menus, it is most often in the form of wedges of pita... Ronald Reagan...retained an appetite for simple, home-style meals. Even in the White House, Ronald Reagan prefers the plain foods of his early days...These include such homey dishes as Macaroni and Cheese, Meat Loaf, and Hamburger Soup...The President usually has lunch in the Oval Office, and he prefers a light meal such as soup, bread, and a fruit dessert. He likes minestrone with a wedge of fresh Italian bread, lentil soup with sliced frankfurters, navy bean or black beans soup, and Scotch broth made with barley. His favorite soup...is a home-style hanburger soup made with beef broth, lean ground beef, fresh tomatoes, and hominy. Served with a slice of toasted French bread and perhaps a medly of fresh fruit for dessert...Sunday night fare typically consists of a simple main dish, fresh vegetables, salad and fruit. The Reagans are fond of hash made with chicken, but the President's favorite is an old-fashioned roast beef hash. Sometimes they enjoy a hearty dinner of roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding. They are also fans of a California favorite, steak with chili. Mrs. Reagan likes her meat cooked medium-well, while the President prefers his well-done...Dinner menus at Rancho del Ciero are similar to the hearty meals served at Camp David...Although the reagans prefer chicken, veal, and fish to beef, several of their best-liked dishes do feature lean beef. Beef and Kidney Pie is one......Osso Bucco...is a favorite of the Reagans and is served for both family dinners and special meals. Other veal dishes favored by the Reagans include veal scallopine in Marsala, Veal Piccata, and Veal Parmigiana...President Reagan is especially fond of broiled swordfish napped with lemon butter. Mrs. Reagan is fond of number of fish dishes, including salmon mousse, grilled halibut steak, broiled trout with kiwi fruit, and swordfish Veronique...the Reagans...enjoy some sort of light dessert after most every meal. Fruit desserts are especially popular, including a wide array of apple dishes...The President is fond of honey-baked apples, and Mrs. Reagan's favorite is an old-fashioned Apple Brown Betty..." ---The White House Family Cookbook, Henry Haller [Random House:New York] 1987 (p. 327-365)
The jelly bean factor?
Why this president munched jelly beans, courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library
Need to make something (easy, delicious, portable) for class? We suggest: Monkey Bread.
George Herbert Walker Bush
Some Presidents are famous for enjoying fine food; others are noted for preferring "down home" simple fare. Mr. George Herbert Walker Bush is probably the only President best known for disliking a particular food. That would be broccoli.
"George Bush, still harboring a childhood grudge against broccoli, escalated the rhetoric today in his one-man war against the vegetable. "I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it and I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli," Bush proclaimed to cheers and laughter at the close of an outdoor news conference. Bush's forthright stand has brought howls from broccoli growers, who are shipping 10 tons of the green, flowery vegetable from California to the nation's capital to feed the hungry. "Now, look. This is the last statement I'm going to have on broccoli," Bush said. "There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided." But the President admitted that at least one member of the Bush family likes broccoli. "For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself," Bush said. "So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that's coming in."
---"Bush's Broccoli Hatred Flowers Into Presidential Proclamation," Los Angeles Times, Mar 22, 1990, (p. 2)
""Broccoli every day." That was my mother's slogan, and we got it every day, like oatmeal and soft-boiled eggs. But in those days broccoli came packed in mud-or so it seemed-and you got grains of dirt with every bit no matter how many rinses or how much hosing they got. No wonder President George Bush hates broccoli. If I were the President of the United States, I probably would too, remembering only the bad old days."
---"Broccoli Tops the Favorite Vegetable List, Hands Down Nutrition: Despite what the President might think, there are several delicious ways to prepare broccoli so that it tempts even the most stubborn of taste buds," ROSE DOSTI, Los Angeles Times,Mar 29, 1990 (p. 37)
What about other vegetables?
"Vice President George Bush won't eat cauliflower. Or Brussels sprouts. Barbara Pierce Bush, the vice president's wife of 41 years, revealed these tidbits from "the life of the wife of the vice president" at a breakfast in Irvine on Monday for 500 Republicans. The vice president's dislike for vegetables came up as Mrs. Bush spoke of the 145 or so letters she receives each week and then entertained the crowd by reading a sample of her favorites. "Dear Mrs. Bush, would you please send me the vice president's favorite recipes? Never mind the vegetables," one fan wrote. "They obviously knew George Bush," Mrs. Bush said. "The day he was 60, he said to me: `I am never going to eat broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or cabbage again.' And he hasn't!"
---"Or a Vegetarian Second Lady's Role Not for a Bush-Leaguer," LANIE JONES, Los Angeles Times, May 6, 1986 (p. 1)
"A debate is under way among close associates of George Bush over the favorite snack of the President. Mr. Bush has long shown a fondness for pork rinds, so much so that Congressional leaders recently brought him some as a good-will gift. But some longtime Bush friends, such as Don Rhodes and Vic Gold, insist that his true love is popcorn.."
---"WASHINGTON TALK: BRIEFING; Presidential Snacks," Berke, E.J. Dionne Jr. and Richard, New York Times, Feb 16, 1989 (p.B14)
"Ten years ago the recently inaugurated George Bush was making his favorite foods known. For a black-tie,500-a-plate inaugural dinner what did he choose? A baked bean and scrod dinner to commemorate the great state of his birth, Massachusetts? Oysters a la Connecticut to note the days of his youth? A messy Texas barbecue from his adopted home state? Or, from his Kennebunkport summer home, Maine lobsters? Instead George and Barbara Bush for the first of many presidential dinners designed a meal around the taste buds of George Washington and called it "From George to George." Here are two recipes from that feast.
4 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup onions, chopped
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup white corn kernels
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons flour
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and white pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a frying pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside. Add the onions to the pan and saute them until transparent. Add the bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside. Heat the milk and cream over low heat until warm. Add the butter and heat until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and slowly add the milk mixture to the beaten eggs, whisking lightly to combine. Add the corn, flour, thyme, parsley, cooked bacon, onions and peppers and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 1 1/2-quart oval baking dish and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes until golden brown..."
Apple-Cranberry Brown Betty
This is good with a little cinnamon or vanilla ice cream on the side.
Butter and sugar for preparing the souffle dish
10 Granny Smith apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons butter, plus additional 1/2 cup melted
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and dried
1 cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes then squeezed dry
Zest of 2 oranges
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups stale white-bread crumbs, crusts removed>br? Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 2-quart straight-sided glass souffle dish and then sprinkle with sugar. Peel, core and quarter the apples, then cut each quarter into 3 chunks. Reserve in a bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples and toss to combine. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until hot and add 1/3 of the apple pieces. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and saute over high heat until the apples are lightly caramelized. Remove the apples from heat and reserve in a large bowl. Repeat process until all the apples are cooked. Combine the apples with the cranberries, raisins, orange zest, brown sugar, mace and cinnamon and mix well. Mix the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter. Line bottom of souffle bowl with 1/3 of the bread-crumb mixture. Add 1/2 of the apple-cranberry mixture, then sprinkle with 1/3 more of the bread crumbs. Add rest of apple-cranberry mixture, then top with the remaining bread crumbs. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours."
---"RECIPE EXCHANGE," The Washington Post, Feb 3, 1999 (p. M.2
Most Americans today love (or have a secret love) for fast food. Mr. Clinton just happened to get caught.
For the record:
"Favorite Food: Chicken Enchiladas, Bananas, Apples, and Vegetable Beef Soup"
White House for Kids/NARA
Popular media expanded this list:
"Bill Clinton's favorite foods include chicken enchiladas, tacos, barbecued ribs, cheeseburgers, lemon chess pie, peach pie, beef tenders marinated in Italian dressing and hims mom's sweet-potato casserole..."
---"Bill and His Diet," New York Times, January 17, 1993 (p. SM50)
"THE good news is, my husband loves to eat and enjoys it," Hillary Clinton said. "The bad news is, he loves to eat, even when things are not always right for him." Visits to nine restaurants here that his friends say are among Bill Clinton's favorites, as well as sightings around the country, confirm his wife's description of his eating habits. From Sims Bar-B-Q to Juanita's, from Doe's Eat Place to Hungry's Cafe, President-elect Clinton prefers the stuff with fat in it: jalapeno cheeseburgers, chicken enchiladas, barbecue, cinnamon rolls and pies. But no chocolate-chip cookies... Mr. Clinton must get his calories in other forms because he is allergic to chocolate and to milk... The President-elect's taste in food reflects the kind of diet most people his age and older grew up eating: heavy on the meat, dessert at every meal and tiny amounts of vegetables, the tinier the better. This information may send current and future White House chefs into paroxysms of fear. But they need not worry. Anyone capable of making a good hollandaise should have no trouble with an enchilada. And no one in the White House will have to bother with barbecue; Sims will gladly deliver. Mr. Clinton's battle of the bulge is one most people can sympathize with, especially if they have to eat irregular meals on the road. By the time of the New York primary in April, Mr. Clinton weighed more than 200 pounds, a gain of about 30 pounds... "Bill's partial to chicken enchiladas," Mr. Abernathy said. "We're somewhat famous for them." He described them in loving detail: "They're made with Smooth Melt Cheese, which is similar to Velveeta but not cheese food. It's real cheese."... Mr. Clinton is also partial to soft tacos and to Clausthaler, a nonalcoholic German beer. He drinks very little alcohol, friends and restaurateurs say, preferring a soft drink or iced tea. Now that the President-elect causes traffic to stop whenever he goes out, he's been eating a lot of carryout, from Juanita's and elsewhere. Often it includes chili con queso made with three kinds of cheese and three kinds of peppers, a dip Mr. Abernathy says is addictive. Sims Bar-B-Q, in a rundown little shack that draws a cross-section of Little Rock's people, has been run by the Sims-Settlers family for 60 years, and the family members certainly know how to smoke meats. Mr. Clinton is partial to sliced pork barbecue, baked beans and slaw, sliced beef, potato salad and sweet potato pie....To pay a bet he lost on an Arkansas-Georgia football game, Mr. Clinton sent some of Sims's barbecued chicken this fall to Gov. Zell Miller of Georgia. All those visits Mr. Clinton has made to McDonald's notwithstanding, the President-elect doesn't eat there much. At least not anymore. In a "Saturday Night Live" skit a few weeks ago Phil Hartman, the actor impersonating Mr. Clinton, was seen in a McDonald's with his Secret Service agents, one of whom said to him, "Mrs. Clinton told us not to let you into any fast-food places." Despite the warning, he snatched food from people's plates as he talked to them. In fact, all the President-elect gets at McDonald's these days is a glass of water and a cup of coffee. "When he's not on a diet," one of the counter people said, "he has an Egg McMuffin." Once or twice a week, when he was Governor, his jogging took him by the Community Bakery, where he would get a cup of coffee and a bagel, plain or cinnamon. No sweets for Mr. Clinton? "A lot of times he'd get cake doughnuts," said John Sproles, the manager, "but I don't know if he ate them." Ann Ward, owner of Hungry's Cafe, seemed far more knowledgeable -- or forthcoming. "He'd stop twice a week when the Legislature was in session," said Ms. Ward, whose restaurant serves a lunch of "one meat, two veg., bread, tea, Kool-Aid or coffee" for.50. One meat means hamburger pepper loaf, smothered steak, fried chicken or chicken fried steak. The restaurant looks the way any place called Hungry's should look: a stamped-tin ceiling, dark green walls with chipped paint, linoleum on the floor worn by thousands of scraping chairs and footsteps, and a different oilcloth pattern on every table. "Mr. Clinton often had cinnamon rolls," Ms. Ward said, rolls nearly as big as hubcaps. In a bow to his cholesterol count, he smeared them with margarine, she added. None of Mr. Clinton's favorite restaurants ever gained the fame reserved for Doe's Eat Place, where Mr. Clinton often held important political events. Decorated in Early Attic, it exudes legend. Ersatz legend. The place is only four years old. Some of the patina that has rubbed off on it is from its namesake in Greenville, Miss., which is legendary: it opened 50 years ago. The Little Rock Doe's pays a fee to the Greenville restaurant to use the name. Tim Jones, a waiter at Doe's, calls it "vegetarian hell." "We have potato and one kind of salad," he said, "but most people come here for a greasy cheeseburger or a two-pound steak." Mr. Clinton has had his share of both... The restaurant's cook, Lucille Robinson, has been feeding Mr. Clinton for 15 years, starting at a place called the Band Box, whose owner, George Eldridge, also owns Doe's. Mr. Eldridge plans to open a place similar to Doe's in Washington under the name George & Lucille's. "The Governor always eats jalapeno cheeseburgers, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles and onions," Ms. Robinson said. "But last time he was in he had tamales and French fries. He has to cut back every now and then."
---"Bill Clinton and Food:Jack Sprat He's Not," Marian Burros, New York Times, December 23, 1992
Notes from the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas confirms Mr. Clinton appreciated quick access to portable food. This is not exactly the same thing as "fast food."
"Some of Governor Clinton's favorite foods were corn pudding, fried chicken, roast beer and carrot cake...I can't remember Governor Clinton ever sitting down to eat a normal meal during the time he was governor. He would walk through the kitchen, get...some kind of sandwich, and go to his office to work. He loved roast beef sandwiches."
---Conversations, Bill Clinton and Janice F. Kearney (p. 250)
[NOTE: text accessed from Google Books.]
Recipes & memories: White House Chef/Walter Scheib and Andrew Friedman.
George W. Bush
Distinct, direct, non-negotiable & quick.
"Because food wasn't much of a priority for the Bushes, whenever a dish met with Mrs. Bush's approval, the inclination among her staff was to have it served as often as possible. There's no better example of this than a fresh pea soup with mint we served one day...President and Mrs. Bush didn't eat only Tex-Mex food...One of their favorite things was warm biscuits...They also appreciated a rich, homemade chicken pot pie...For all the differences between them, Mrs. Bush seemed to quite enjoy the repertoire of lunch dishes...created for Mrs. Clinton--the healthful salads, soups, wraps...Like Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Bush enjoyed a one-course lunch, relatively low in protein and fat...Of course, there was tweaking to do. Mrs. Bush loved beets...She favored spicier food over mild food, so we livened up the dishes with chiles and hot sauces whenever it made sense. And, of course, she liked to be served Tex-Mex and Southwester food as often as possible...There was a handful of things that the President wanted for lunch, and her almost never deviated from that list. There was a BLT...He liked his grilled cheese sandwiches made with Kraft Singles and white bread...He also enjoyed peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and occasionally a burger, cooked between medium and medium rare, on a bun with lettuce and tomato on the side...There was one more thing the President insisted on: he wanted his food to be prompt. President Bush does not like to be kept waiting, and is legendary for this...Not only did the President like to start right away, but he liked to finish his meals quickly as well...On most Sundays, if the Bushes weren't at Camp David...the President wanted the same thing for lunch: A post-church meal of huevos rancheros...Another popular weekend snack for the President, according to Mrs. Bush herself, was deviled eggs..."
---White House Chef, Walter Scheib and Andrew Friedman [John Wiley:Hoboken NJ] 2007 (p. 215-236)
What does our 44th president like to eat? We're just beginning to find out!
"Every president has his favorite stuff. And it doesn't take long for the nation to become enamored with a president's pet things and habits, particularly a celebrity president such as Barack Obama. With Ronald Reagan, it was jelly beans. Jimmy Carter munched peanuts. And George W. Bush is a pretzel lover. The election of Obama will bring a new cadre of often-upscale brand names to the White House. For marketers, it's the chance of a lifetime. Among the brands Obama has worn, sipped, eaten or driven in public: Hart Schaffner Marx suits, Black Forest Berry Honest Tea, Fran's Chocolates, Planters Trail Mix and the Ford Escape hybrid SUV. He also drinks lots of bottled water... Key Obama family brands:... Snacks. Obama tries to snack healthy. He likes Planters Trail Mix: Nuts, Seeds and Raisins. Planters has White House links dating to former president (and peanut farmer) Carter, as a sponsor of the Plains, Ga., Peanut Festival, says Laurie Guzzinati, a Kraft Foods spokeswoman. For sweets, the Obamas eat Fran's Chocolates, an artisan chocolate brand from Seattle. The president-elect prefers Fran's Smoked Sea Salt Caramel in Milk Chocolate ( for a 16-piece box); wife Michelle prefers dark chocolate, says Sean Seedlock, Fran's marketing chief. Drinks. Obama is a fan of Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. "It raises the profile of our brand and all organic products," says Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea. "We'd love for it to be the official drink of the new administration.""
---"Obama family favorites likely to get brand boost," Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY Nov 6, 2008 (p. B4)
"We believe that a candidate's taste in food is a more reliable indicator of character than the carefully strained statements issued in this atmosphere of gotcha and gotcha back. So we have worked our sources and come up with the names of the candidates' favorite restaurants in their home states...The Obamas' favorite spot for a night out in Chicago is the alta cocina Mexican restaurant Topolobampo, said Michelle Obama spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld. Chicagoans know Topolobampo as the quieter, slightly classier sister restaurant of Frontera Grill, both owned by award-winning chef Rick Bayless. Sun-Times restaurant critic Pat Bruno has praised its "creativity and quality." For a simpler bite, the Obamas turn to RJ Grunts, a cartoony Lincoln Park emporium of burgers, ribs and Tex-Mex standards, the spokeswoman says. On her own, Michelle Obama has favored the more cutting-edge food at Sepia in the West Loop neighborhood...Obama's idea of a fast meal is to order from a scruffy minimall pizza place near his South Side house called Italian Fiesta Pizzeria...Much more interesting on the Obamas' dining list is Topolobampo, Rick Bayless' superb little shrine to the full panoply of Mexico's cuisine. We have eaten there happily for years, enjoying its authentic, even scholarly versions of classic dishes such as chilaquiles and Yucatecan roast pork. Topolobampo is one of the reasons we think Chicago is arguably America's top eating city, with fewer high-end addresses than New York but a more stellar, dramatic pantheon. From its diverse and creative menu, Topolobampo says, Obama often orders sopa azteca, a dark broth flavored with pasilla chilies, grilled chicken, avocado, Meadow Valley Farm handmade Jack cheese, thick cream and tortilla strips."
---"McCain and Obama's favorite restaurants: What McCain and Obama's favorite restaurants say about the candidates," Raymond Sokolov, Chicago Sun Times, July 28, 2008
Barack Obama's Inaugural luncheon menu is said to have been inspired by Abraham Lincoln's 2nd inaugural menu (scroll down for menu).
Looking for favorite foods of other famous people?
FoodTimeline library owns 2300+ books, hundreds of 20th century USA food company brochures, & dozens of vintage magazines (Good Housekeeping, American Cookery, Ladies Home Journal &c.) We also have ready access to historic magazine, newspaper & academic databases. Service is free and welcomes everyone. Have questions? Ask!
About culinary research & about copyright
Research conducted by Lynne Olver, editor The Food Timeline. About this site.
© Lynne Olver 1999
22 February 2015
2.1k SHARES Sign-up to get new posts delivered to your.