Poor Harry: Thanksgiving in the Truman White House 1946

President Harry S. Truman found himself on the slimming end of things in 1946. The New York Times reported that Truman's menus seemed a bit austere and quoted White House housekeeper, Mrs. Mary E. Sharpe, as saying "When I make up menus I keep it in mind." "It" being President's Truman's ongoing battle of the…

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The Harvest Months

The frost descended on the pumpkin the other night and in the early morning light, as I drove around the curving roads of rural Virginia, a dozen cows stood silhouetted and blanketed in thick white fog. Eerily outlined against the fading green of the sparse grass they munched, for some reason those cows reminded me…

Happy Thanksgiving

No matter what your feelings about the origins of Thanksgiving -  it did NOT really start with the Massachusetts Pilgrims post-1620 - and the impact of the English settlers in North America or Sarah Josepha Hale's influence on Abraham Lincoln, today's holiday has more to do with re-enforcing family ties and culinary traditions often far…

Lefse, and Giving Thanks via a Food of Immigration, Poverty, and Oppression

Term: lefse (food) Definition: thin, unleavened bread of Norwegian origin, traditionally made of a potato-based dough and baked on a griddle [Source: Dictionary of American Regional English] Thanksgiving is a day when Americans recall the myths of their founding, usually associated with the English Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1620, ignoring the Jamestown settlers who arrived…

To the Cooks, Prosit! Part II

He turns the spit who never tasted a morsel from it. Proverbes en Rimes, no. 117. Continuing our salute to cooks this holiday season (Thanksgiving), today's post includes some depictions of male cooks, as well as female cooks. Medieval opinions of cooks, mostly men, tended to reflect the lowly status accorded to people who worked…

To the Cooks, Prosit! Part I

Sir Thomas More in his Utopia (1516), in delineating what would make an ideal society, said: .. all vyle service, all slaverie and drudgerye, with all the laboursome toyle and busines, is done by bondmen. But the women of every famelie by course have the office and charge of cokerye ... and orderyng al thinges…

Feasting in State: Obama’s First Real State Dinner

In the next week, we will see real-time examples of a few of the different types of feasts common to American culture: Thanksgiving --- essentially a harvest feast tinged with overtones of cultural identity --- and President Barack Obama’s first true State Dinner, to be held on November 24, 2009 for India’s Prime Minister Manmohan…

The Feat of Feasting

One cannot both feast and become rich. Ashanti Proverb “Feasting,” for all practical purposes, appears to be the antonym of “hunger.” And yet, feasting is rife (ripe?) with teeming contradictions and ritualistic conventions. For some, feasting implies hunger. Ambrose Bierce defined feasting in a rather limiting manner in his irreverent Devil’s Dictionary: FEAST, n. A…

Hunger, Starvation, Famine and the Sweep of Human History

When it comers to food, we humans live in a paradox these days. In the West, there's too much food --- as long as one has money with which to buy it --- and because of that excess, we begin to look like the Michelin Man or the Pillsbury Doughboy. And on the flip side …

BREAKING: Camp David / White House Thanksgiving Menu 2008

Just in time for Thanksgiving eve, the White House uploaded the following menu that President Bush and his family will eat on November 27, 2008. Just a few changes from 2006: Free-Range Roast Turkey Cornbread Dressing Cranberry Sauce Sautéed Green Beans Morelia Style Gazpacho with Spinach Salad Zucchini Gratin Whipped Maple Sweet Potatoes Buttered Mashed…

President Bill Clinton’s First Thanksgiving in the White House: The Menu

U.S. Presidents since Eisenhower seem to prefer the rusticity of Camp David for Thanksgiving. Bill Clinton ate his first Thanksgiving dinner as president at Camp David. The Office of the First Lady released the following menu the day before Thanksgiving that year, November 23, 1995: Thanksgiving Menu Turkey Wrapped in Bacon Mrs. Kelly's Traditional Cornbread…

Turkey Talk and Stuff: A Gobble Ahead

"When the wine has stopped fermenting in November, the turkey is ready for roasting." --Italian Proverb-- The slight chill in the air lately conjures up dreams of fall nights replete with soup and crunching leaves underfoot and turkey dinners. Wild turkeys dart in and out of the bushes around the woods near my house. And…