Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Do Presidents Eat?

There's a great move on to have the Obamas start a large vegetable garden at the White House. But do presidents even like vegetables?

We know that George Bush the elder famously hated broccoli. George Washington apparently loved fish and nuts. Abraham Lincoln was so preoccupied with holding the country together that he paid hardly any attention to what he ate. But he was partial to a good cup of coffee, a simple egg and toast. Harry Truman,befitting his Midwestern roots, favored a big steak, cooked well-done, as well as fried chicken and custard pie.

(Barrack Obama is known to love pizza and chili, and is said to like his vegetables, especially spinach and broccoli. His method of making tuna salad at home includes mustard, mayo, chopped gherkins and juice from the pickle jar. "The truth is, before I met Michelle, I did quite a bit of cooking," Obama told 60 Minutes. But the kids mostly like pasta a cheese toast. "It's not as if we've got real sophisticated palates in this household.")

You can delve into all of these presidential food preferences in endless detail, along with much more about the White House culinary history, from a new web page posted by the Library of Congress. Titled rather dryly, "Presidential Food: Selected Resource Guide," the page lists dozens of written references--White House cookbooks, memoirs and food profiles of individual presidents--along with several internet links. You can even take a video tour of the White House kitchen with Executive Chef Christeta Comerford.

One of my favorite quotes comes from our first president, who, despite the story about his admitting to chopping down the cherry tree, apparently really did like cherries but preferred his food simple.

"My manner of living is plain, and I do not mean to be put out by it," Washington declared. " A glass of wine and a bit on mutton are always welcome. Those who expect more will be disappointed."

What ever happened to mutton? Any chance it will make a comeback under the new administration?

6 comments:

Merry said...

That is probably the strangest topic to have a resource list on.
I will browse the cook book though :-)

Ed Bruske said...

Merry, this just goes to show that there's a resource list for everything, and not enough years in a lifetime to read it all.

JBL said...

Mutton is a staple back home, in Western Kentucky. All summer long, the parish picnics start their pit fires days ahead of their annual fete. Then the men of the area go to town from well before the Sunday dawn, and open up the tall standing tables (really just 2x8 boards on top of posts) to eat for lunch, and teens walk in the open areas between tables to do the serving. There are games, raffles, and sometimes amusement rides--I know of one old rotating swing ride that was made entirely out of a broken down old school bus! It's a great time, and good eating! For the life of me though, I can't find mutton anywhere but home.

Ed Bruske said...

JBL, I've heard of the mutton barbecues in Kentucky. It is my fervent hope to attend one day. And you said it exactly: mutton is nowhere to be found. I've been unable to get anyone to tell me where all the old ewes go. Mutton is delicious, but it fell out of favor as being too "gamey."

Ed Bruske said...

JBL, I've heard of the mutton barbecues in Kentucky. It is my fervent hope to attend one day. And you said it exactly: mutton is nowhere to be found. I've been unable to get anyone to tell me where all the old ewes go. Mutton is delicious, but it fell out of favor as being too "gamey."

JBL said...

Sure is gamey. No doubt about that. Can't help but think that's a good enough reason to cook it outside.