Get Your Vote On Today – I Just Did! Then Learn What Some of Our Past Presidents Liked to Eat! “CARBOPHOBES” Might Want to Pass!

November 6, 2012

Yesterday, in downtown West Chester, Pennsylvania, I had the pleasure of dining at the Roots Café with Libby Mills, a dynamic and nationally known registered dietician and culinary professional.  Libby had just finished her radio talk show on WCHE 1520AM, called “Libby’s Luncheonette,” where she interviewed Scott Anderson, a passionate culinary chef with a deep knowledge of America’s early history.

Scott tells us that most Presidents came from working farms or just average families. They were simple folks and enjoyed lots of vegetables and fruits – as well as many dishes loaded with carbohydrates.  Since very basic cooking was the way food was prepared, our Presidents naturally consumed more whole foods.  Their meals resembled what Americans ate during the 1940s through the 1960s – the basic trio of meat, potatoes and vegetables.

During the early days, the White House chefs put everything in a big pot and then boiled…and boiled.  The meals were washed down with a good, strong bold coffee.  The commanders found that coffee was fortifying – much like our culture of today finds it.

Here are some of our past Presidents’ favorite foods:

  • President James Polk (March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849): corn pone – a thick dough (often made without milk or eggs) formed into a cake and fried in bacon grease
  • Zachary Taylor (March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850): deep fried rice cakes for breakfast
  • Franklin Pierce (March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857): Apple New Hampshire fried pies –resembled the fried apple pies that McDonalds used to serve and then phased out.  He liked any kind of fruit wrapped in dough.
  • Abraham Lincoln (March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865):  he was a big man with a small appetite and preferred fresh fruits and vegetables.  “Abraham Lincoln dined in a Spartan fashion…He would rather nibble fruit. His wife Mary tried everything to make Abe eat but was 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. 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)
  • Andrew Johnson (April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869): simple farm food – liked rice and anything made with sweet potatoes like sweet potato pie
  • President Ulysses S. Grant (March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877): loved BIG breakfasts – fried mackerel, steak, bacon, apples, buckwheat pancakes, and very strong coffee
  • President James Garfield (March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881): fresh bread, mashed potatoes, Sour Apple Pie and preferred herbal and spiced teas over coffee
  • President Chester A. Arthur (September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885):  a truly gourmet culinary President, liked food yet in moderation.  Enjoyed a good rare roast beef with a nice baked potato and side of fruit, washed down with a nice glass of wine or ale
  • President Benjamin Harrison (March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893) – all American palate, turkey and trimmings, oysters, loved corn soups

The early Presidents used meal time to discuss what was going on during their time.  This differs from today in which recent Presidents eat just to get it done so they can then engage in important conversations!




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