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February 15, 2012
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." observed Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the 19th century gastronomer. Our presidents each had their own dietary portraits. Some loved French cusine (Jefferson, Kennedy), while others enjoyed home cooking (Adams, Johnson). Some presidents ate for energy (Lincoln, Wilson), opportunities for cultural exchange (Nixon, FDR), or medical purposes (Garfield).
While Washington was known for cherries, he also loved a variety of fruits, nuts, and fish.. He prefered simple meals over fancy ones and his home in Mount Vernon was completly self-sufficient with its own farms, orchards, meat preservation facilities, and animals. His wife, Martha, recorded her recipes in Booke of Cookery which was recently reprinted by Columbia University Press.
"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)
"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
"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
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"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
John F. Kennedy
"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
"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
"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 ($24 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