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Here’s what Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt liked to eat


A state dinner on the White House isn’t simply a meal for the president and his hungry VIP guests. Fairly, it’s a “forum for politics and entertainment at the very best level,” writes creator Alex Prud’homme in “Dinner with the President: Food, Politics and a History of Breaking Bread on the White House,” (Knopf.) “The president is each an emblem of the nation and a flesh-and-blood human being and his food decisions bridge those disparate roles.”

The primary big White House dinner was served in 1874 when President Ulysses Grant — then the youngest commander in chief at 46 — served guest of honor King Kalakaua of Hawaii a whopping 29 courses. The dishes included trout, squab, and beef tenderloin, together with the chef’s vegetable elixir that had no equal — “just a little smoother than peacock’s brains,” but not quite equal to a dish of nightingale tongues.”

A state dinner requires months of planning and is viewed as an event that may help formulate future international policies of an administration. By featuring the native foods of visiting diplomats, the meal can foster goodwill and potentially promote the president’s political agenda, observes the creator, who notes that ghastly food could totally undermine a president’s legacy.

Former President Abraham Lincoln adored possum dip.AP

While some presidents savored tossing a giant state dinner, others were overwhelmed.

Former President Donald Trump, who privately favored a Big Mac meal, hosted only two state dinners during his one-term presidency. In keeping with the creator, the business mogul believed that costs for the splashy dinners could possibly be sliced by serving hamburgers served on a conference table quite than a kitchen staff of 100 preparing a gastronomic feast.

There’s a great food story behind virtually every president: Lincoln adored possum dip, Eisenhower was a squirrel meat man and Franklin Delano Roosevelt savored buffalo tongue as an appetizer.

A picture of Teddy Rooseevelt.Avid hunter Teddy Roosevelt Teddy killed greater than 500 wild animals on an African safari.Bettmann Archive

While weird, Prud’homme maintains that the presidential palate has helped shape the country and influence food policy all over the world. “[Presidential] policies and the best way they pull governmental levers influence the flow of products and services to thousands and thousands of Americans and to billions of individuals all over the world,” writes Prud’homme. “The messaging about food touches on the whole lot from personal taste to global nutrition, politics, economics, science, and war.”

From gluttons to gastronomes, here’s what a few of our presidents chowed down on.

Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy was a world big-game hunter who boasted that he once “toasted slices of elephant’s heart on a pronged stick and located it delicious.” He had no gourmet pretensions, and at the top of his term, after condemning “game butchery” as “wanton cruelty,” he killed greater than 500 wild animals on an African safari.

A picture of an elephant.Nixon boasted that he enjoyed eating “toasted slices of elephant’s heart.”Getty Images

Woodrow Wilson

Described as “a timid, picky eater,” a giant meal for the twenty eighth president was clear soup, chicken salad, and strawberry ice cream. He simply ate to live. He once described with rare ardor-loving foods of his native Virginia – country hams, peach cobblers, butter and buttermilk, fresh eggs and hot biscuits, homemade ice cream, and plain white cake – but this was easy fare in comparison with what other presidents consumed.

A picture of Woodrow Wilson.Woodrow Wilson was not an adventurous eater, preferring to persist with easy foods like clear soup and plain white cake. Getty Images

John F. Kennedy

Together with the primary lady, the Kennedys were considered great epicures. They hired a French chef who prepared exquisite banquets — sole mousse, filet of beef Montfermeil, or a pheasant breast galantine filled with herbs, bacon, a mirepoix of carrots, celery, and shallots. “Maison Blanche gained a repute for serving a number of the finest meals on the town, or anywhere,” writes Prud’Homme.

A picture of Dinner with the President: Food, Politics, and a History of Breaking Bread at the White House by Alex Prud'homme.“The president is each an emblem of the nation and a flesh-and-blood human being and his food decisions bridge those disparate roles,” Prud’homme wrote in his book.

Richard Nixon

The primary couple — “Tricky Dick” and Pat -— each ate copious amounts of cottage cheese. Waist watchers were the other of the barbecue, chili, and beer-inhaling Johnsons — Lyndon Baines and Lady Bird, who preceded the Nixons within the White House. On the low-cost, Nixon served a $6 bottle of wine to guests, saved a $30 dollar bottle for himself, and complained in regards to the “ineffable boredom of state dinners.” He preferred pupu platters — a tray of American Chinese or Hawaiian meats and appetizers — accompanied by Mai Tais, a powerful rum-based cocktail — while Pat drank Jack Daniel’s whiskey at Trader Vic’s in DC. Nixon could often be found there within the month before he famously declared, “I’m not a crook.”

A picture of former President Nixon. Former President Nixon would served a $6 bottle of wine to guests, saved a $30 dollar bottle for himself.

Bettmann Archive

A picture of a Mai Tai. Nixon preferred pupu platters accompanied by Mai Tais.



George H.W. Bush

Bush 41 made headlines when he stated, “I don’t like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I used to be just a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the USA, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!” Outraged broccoli farmers sent truckloads to the White House in protest. While Bush passed off Broccoli-Gate as a joke, First Lady Barbara Bush shot back, “We’re going to have broccoli soup, broccoli important dish, broccoli salad, and broccoli ice cream.”

William Taft

A picture of President Taft.William Taft was the heaviest US president, weighing in at 354 kilos. Getty Images

A picture of waffles.William Taft loved a hearty breakfast of waffles, often with a side of venison. Shutterstock

Tipping the scales at 354 kilos, Taft was our heaviest president. He loved a breakfast worthy of a medieval king, a 12-ounce steak, two oranges, toast, coffee — or waffles, and a haunch of venison — or each. His favorite food, nonetheless, was roasted possum. It is claimed that he once got stuck in his huge, custom-built bathtub that would fit 4 men. 

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