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Presidential appetites


In today's Washington Post, Michael Dirda reviews “The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto,” by Bernard DeVoto. Naturally, the subject of drinks led to thoughts of food.

Happily, a new book by Matthew Jacob and Mark Jacob satiates our appetite for both food and politics. In What the Great Ate: A Curious History of Food and Fame, the authors present a smorgasbord of amusing tidbits on the favorite foods of prominent artists, scientists, sports stars and, yes, politicos. Chew on these morsels about our presidents.

More than a few were fond of junk food: As a law student at Duke, Richard Nixon usually had a Milky Way candy bar for breakfast. George H.W. Bush “loved eating the kind of food found at a snack counter, on a picnic table, or in a fast-food restaurant — hamburgers, nachos, beef jerky, tacos, guacamole, chili barbequed ribs, candy, hot dog, popcorn, and ice cream.” Of course, his successor, Bill Clinton, is also known for his love of fast food — especially the Golden Arches.

We’re all repulsed by something: William Howard Taft wouldn’t eat eggs. Ronald Reagan’s love of jellybeans is famous. Less known is that he reportedly went 70 years without eating a tomato. In March 1990, George H.W. Bush declared: “I do not like broccoli.” And it wasn’t out of revulsion that Nixon banned soup at state dinners. He was afraid of spilling the contents on himself or the table.

Dessert comes first: George Washington spent $200 on ice cream during the summer of 1790. Thomas Jefferson actually wrote the first American recipe for ice cream (but also introduced the States to eggplant.) Reagan described himself as a “dessert man” and especially enjoyed chocolate mousse. Likewise, if John F. Kennedy had dessert, “it was usually something chocolate.”

Stomach rumbling yet?

—Stephen Lowman

By Stephen Lowman  |  July 22, 2010; 1:45 AM ET
Categories:  Digress  
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