Florida Oranges, and Other White House Desserts

Desserts and sweets served in the White House reflect the culinary history of the United States. The patterns of cooking, eating, and serving food in the White House originally relied heavily on the British heritage of the Thirteen Colonies, a pattern that generally continues until the present day.  Although wars and economic depressions plagued the…

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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…

Christmas in the White House: President Benjamin Harrison’s Carlsbad Wafers and His 1890 Christmas Dinner

President Benjamin Harrison, being a card-carrying participant of the Gilded Age, and his wife Caroline Scott Harrison served an unusual dinner on Christmas day, 1890. (The menu follows below.) Unusual in one way. Carlsbad Wafers. Huh? The mention of Carlsbad Wafers stopped me in my tracks for a minute. Like a curious cat, whiskers trembling,…

Eating Dessert at the White House + A Word about Dallas, November 22, 1963*

Bill Yosses, the current White House pastry chef says pie is the all-time favorite in the Obama White House, but adds that “The dessert that was the biggest hit last year was a sugar cookie in the shape of the First Family’s dog, Bo. This year we have a black and yellow bumblebee to celebrate…

Thomas Jefferson: The Francophile Who Became the First U.S. “Foodie”

Thomas Jefferson. President. Scientist. Writer. Man of many passions, some hidden, some not. In his writings and in his actions, food clearly revealed itself as one of those passions. Above all, Jefferson was a Francophile. From the design of his dining room in his house, Monticello, to the gardens surrounding him in the foothills of the…

Breaking: State Dinner Menu Released

Potato and Eggplant Salad White House Arugula w/ Onion Seed Vinaigrette 2008 Savingnon Blanc, Modus Operandi, Napa Valley Red Lentil Soup w Fresh Cheese 2006 Riesling, Brooks "Ara", Wilamette Valley Roast Potato Dumplings w Tomato Chutney Chick Peas and Okra or Green Curry Prawns w caramelized Salsify w smoke Collard Greens and coconut aged basmati…

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…

Diana Kennedy’s Menu for Charles, Prince of Wales

In 2002, Diana Kennedy, well-known author of Mexican cookbooks, served the following menu to the man who would be king, Charles, Prince of Wales:* Cocktails & Appetizers Tequila Apéritifs Fresh Tortillas Small Pumpkin Seeds Toasted and Ground with Roasted Habanero Chilies Guacamole Enhanced with Grapes and Pomegranate Seeds Meal Cream-of-Squash-Flower Soup Pork Loin Baked in…

President Obama’s First “State” Dinner

According to the White House Web site, dated February 22, 2009, the following discussion took place in the White House kitchen: DISCUSSION WITH THE FIRST LADY, SOCIAL SECRETARY DESIREE ROGERS, EXECUTIVE CHEF CHRIS COMERFORD, PASTRY CHEF BILL YOSSES AND STUDENTS FROM L'ACADEMIE DE CUISINE White House Kitchen Here's what White House Chef Cris Comerford had…

Lobster Bisque and Striped Bass à la President Barack Obama

On February 24, 2009, President Barack Obama lunched on lobster bisque and striped bass, along with TV anchors due to report on his "state of the nation" speech. Very interesting was a brief mention of the Obamas' "family dinners": He cherishes family dinner in the White House, where "thorns and roses" is now the favorite…

The Willard Hotel, and a Near Brush with Obama’s Motorcade

See all photos (unedited) by clicking HERE: Last night's dinner at the historic Willard Hotel almost didn't happen because as we walked down 15th St., we couldn't cross the street because the police had cordoned off the street to await the Obama motorcade's passing through on the way to Blair House. But at one point…

All the President’s Tables: Ulysses S. Grant’s 1873 Inaugural Supper

The punch froze. So did the canaries. Brought in to sing for the guests, the poor creatures stiffened seemingly in mid-air, falling to their deaths onto the guests below. Luckily, supper began at 9 p.m. with hot coffee and hot oysters. And the people needed something hot to forget their blue noses and the sad…

All the Presidents’ Tables: Dwight D. Eisenhower’s First Inaugural Luncheon, 1953

January 20, 1953 In 1953, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) started the now-traditional ritual of hosting a luncheon for the incoming President and Vice President. General Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoyed tremendous public recognition because of his role as Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Any man who could keep the troops…

All the President’s Tables: Harry S. Truman’s 1949 Inaugural Luncheon

Like Lyndon Johnson, Harry S. Truman first became president after the death of an incumbent president. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, Truman took the oath of office in a subdued and quiet ceremony in the White House. The 1949 inauguration, on the other hand, presented an entirely different story. To begin…

All the Presidents’ Tables: Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Lunch Menu 1981

Reagan's first inauguration boasted the honor of being the first inauguration celebrated on the west front of the U.S. Capitol. Held in Statuary Hall, Ronald Reagan's 1981 luncheon featured a "California Cuisine" menu. The U.S. Air Force String Quartet and  U.S. Army Strings performed for the 200 guests. Each guest received a series of frameable…

Cristeta Comerford: White House Chef

The news is out --- Cristeta Comerford will remain as White House chef, according to an article in yesterday's The Huffington Post. Lots of great photos with that story, BTW. From the AP wire story: Cristeta Comerford took the job in 2005 and is the first woman and first minority to serve as executive chef.…

Inaugural Luncheon 2009: Menu and Details

According to an e-mail from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the 2009 Inaugural Luncheon looks like this. Note that recipes are also included; click for a .pdf file of the recipes. Around 200 guests will attend this exclusive luncheon in Statuary Hall. Design Cuisine, a top-flight caterer in Washington, designed the menu, which…

All the Presidents’ Table: George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Menus

According to the official Senate committee on the 2005 inaugural, The 2005 Inaugural Luncheon menu draws upon historic ties to the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803-1806.  In the early twentieth century, the preparation of a decadent layered scalloped course was a common style of menu presentation. Creamed seafood…

All the Presidents’ Tables: Ex-Presidents Dine with President Obama

From a White House press release, January 7, 2009: PRESIDENT BUSH: I want to thank the President-elect for joining the ex-Presidents for lunch. And one message that I have and I think we all share is that we want you to succeed. Whether we're Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country. And to…

All the Presidents’ Tables: President Richard Nixon’s Second Inaugural Luncheon

The Joint Congressional Inaugural Committee served the following menu in honor of President Richard M. Nixon and Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew on January 20, 1973. INAUGURAL LUNCHEON 1973 Shrimp Cocktail Roast Tenderloin of Beef Bercy Sauce Green Beans Amandine        Broiled Tomato Grapefruit-Avocado Salad Rolls and Butter Fresh Strawberries with Cream Mints      Coffee

All the Presidents’ Tables: George W. Bush’s First Inaugural Luncheon 2001

Two-hundred years after President Thomas Jefferson's 1801 inauguration,  to celebrate George W. Bush's first  inauguration in 2001, the U.S. Army Brass Quintet provided music. Around 230 dignitaries ate lobster from the surface of U.S. Senate china and enjoyed other dishes honoring Jefferson's presidency. Now Bush walks about as  a very lame duck, so lame that…

All the Presidents’ Tables: Grover Cleveland’s Inaugural Ball Suppers

For a man who liked a chop and some herring, Grover Cleveland and his stomach met their culinary match during America's lavish Gilded Age. Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive  terms as president, beginning his initial term in 1885 and his second in 1893. In between, Benjamin Harrison sat in the Oval Office. While president the…

Sauce Bercy, as Served at Nixon’s Inaugural Luncheons

A lot of wine used to be sold in Bercy, a Parisian neighborhood. Naturally, the restaurateurs there featured wine in their menus, particularly in a sauce made with shallots and butter. Sauce Bercy. One of President Richard M. Nixon's favorite sauces. He liked it so much the chefs served it at both of his inaugural…

All the Presidents’ Tables: President Richard Nixon’s First Inaugural Luncheon

The Joint Congressional Inaugural Committee served the following menu in honor of President Richard M. Nixon and Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew on January 20, 1969. INAUGURAL LUNCHEON 1969 California Fresh Fruit Supreme Celery and Olives New York Roast Tenderloin of Beed Bercy Sauce Baked Tomato    Parisian Potatoes Avocado on Romaine Rolls and Butter Pastry Gems…

Plum Pudding & Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Christmas Message, 1944

During the Roosevelt years. FDR spent time talking to the American people via radio; these became his famous "Fireside Chats." On Christmas Eve, Roosevelt would do one of his chats and then read Charles Dickens's  "A Christmas Carol" to his grandchildren. This what he said in 1944, the turning point of World War II: "The…

Christmas in the White House: President Benjamin Harrison’s Carlsbad Wafers and His 1890 Christmas Dinner

President Benjamin Harrison, being a card-carrying participant of the Gilded Age, and his wife Caroline Scott Harrison served an unusual dinner on Christmas day, 1890. (The menu follows below.) Unusual in one way. Carlsbad Wafers. Huh? The mention of Carlsbad Wafers stopped me in my tracks for a minute. Like a curious cat, whiskers trembling,…

Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture: The Saga Continues

John Salazar? Is a potato farmer. With strong ties to corporate agriculture. The blogging world, at least those interested in who might take over the reins at the USDA (see Mark Bittman of the New York Times on this issue), think that maybe John Salazar of Colorado might be the pick. La Vida Locavore, in…

BREAKING: Short List for Obama’s Agriculture Secretary

The short list of three names includes Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Charles Stenholm, and Dennis Wolff. See an earlier post of this topic: Obama's Agriculture Secretary: Who Should It Be? According to an announcement in The Washington Post, each of the candidates has numerous strengths and weaknesses. These names do not make the sustainable agriculture…

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…