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Food of the Times: Presidential Gastronomy
May 11, 2010 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Although they admit a mutual fondness for a good burger and fries now and then, the President and First Lady Michelle Obama try to emphasize healthy eating at the White House. In 2009, the White House had its first vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s World War II victory garden. This is quite a change to the meal President Eisenhower sat down to a little more than 50 years ago at the USDA's Beltsville Research Station. Eisenhower's own method of cooking a steak was not on the menu, as the showcase meal featured 22 “new and improved” foods, including modified milk containing increased nonfat milk solids and decreased butter, dehydrofrozen peas, orange juice reconstituted from a dehydrated powder, beef and pork grown with newly discovered hormones and antibiotics added, and “butter prepared, presumably, by the usual methods.” Our national conversation about food goes on and the White House will likely continue be at the center of it. Hopefully, we don’t end up with President Garfield's last meal as a White House canteen staple [recipe, including tip on getting rid of the “troublesome little bones.”] Bon Appetit!
posted by webhund (34 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
dehydrofrozen peas

I've never heard of this word, but I love it.
posted by brundlefly at 12:28 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ag and Food Newsletter, May 1953: "Fats and sugars are meeting some resistance in the food markets these days and there is some concern among the producers as to what to do about it."

Don't worry. The television advertising industry will eventually solve all of those concerns in one fell swoop.
posted by blucevalo at 12:31 PM on May 11, 2010


Eisenhower's own method of cooking a steak was not on the menu

Wow, that column just oozes testosterone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:35 PM on May 11, 2010


Re: Garfield's last meal, I'm here to say that squirrel meat is tasty, especially with some curry, if cooked right.
posted by chambers at 12:41 PM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


All I have to say is Squirrel Sandwich.

That's right.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:42 PM on May 11, 2010


Modified milk, dehydrofrozen peas, reconstituted orange juice, hormonally enhanced beef and pork... No wonder Jeremy Irons is pissed off.
posted by mondaygreens at 12:42 PM on May 11, 2010


What about President Clinton's fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches?

Okay, so that probably didn't happen; but it should have, dammit!
posted by entropicamericana at 12:46 PM on May 11, 2010


MrMoonPie, Squirrelmelts!?
posted by dabitch at 12:47 PM on May 11, 2010


I personally like the idea that MrMoonPie stumbled across that video four years ago and has been keeping it bookmarked, knowing that someday-- someday-- someone would mention eating squirrels.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:53 PM on May 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Like all steak gourmets, [Eisenhower] likes a good thick sirloin steak. This does not mean an inch and a quarter, which to the timid and uninstructed sems [sic] to be regarded as "thick." It should be a good four-inches [sic], although, in a pinch, three and a half might do.
Also in a pinch, Ike was known to simply bite the meat straight out of the living, bleeding, shrieking cow.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:55 PM on May 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


Nah, shakespeherian, just a year and a half.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:08 PM on May 11, 2010


All I have to say is Squirrel Sandwich.


What's that kid using? Looks like a 410. He'll be spitting pellets out while he eats that sandwich. A .22 rifle and practice is all you need.

Kids these days...
posted by chambers at 1:09 PM on May 11, 2010


What about President Clinton's fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches?

Okay, so that probably didn't happen


I'm pretty sure Monica made him a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich a few times.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:09 PM on May 11, 2010


[Eisenhower] likes a good thick sirloin steak. This does not mean an inch and a quarter, which to the timid and uninstructed sems [sic] to be regarded as "thick." It should be a good four-inches [sic], although, in a pinch, three and a half might do.

This is what sane people would call a "roast." Likewise, if you're cutting it up and serving it to more than one person, what you've got there is a roast.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:11 PM on May 11, 2010


You're thinking of grilled cheese sandwich.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:12 PM on May 11, 2010


Pfft. Squirrel is for city folk. Now, groundhog...that's good eatin'.
seriously. honest.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:12 PM on May 11, 2010


Beltsville, Maine? I think not, Mr. McGill. I think not indeed.
posted by Naberius at 1:16 PM on May 11, 2010


This trend of industrializing and "improving" foods in the 50s and 60s is exactly what led to the obesity crisis.
posted by mek at 1:16 PM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


How to cook a fucking steak.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:23 PM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


"And the president is a very human man!"

(from the Eisenhower link)

Well, as long as he's not a V, that's ok by me!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:43 PM on May 11, 2010


Eisenhower's meal, in turn, represented considerable progress from Taft's typical evening repast which consisted entirely of butter sculpted into food shapes.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:03 PM on May 11, 2010


Oh my god. Now I must make Eisenhower steak.

God dammit Ike I'm trying to sort of think about considering starting to progress towards beginning to be a vegetarian why you gotta make it so hard
posted by Drexen at 2:26 PM on May 11, 2010


As much as I like Michelle Obama, I have to say that Laura Bush's focus on literacy was much more inspiring than the childhood obesity First-Lady-cause that the current FLOTUS espouses.
posted by Morrigan at 3:17 PM on May 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I dunno, Morrigan, perhaps healthier fed children would be better able to concentrate enough to learn to read. Though I can see knowing how to read being an important part of healthy grocery shopping.
posted by _paegan_ at 3:28 PM on May 11, 2010


webhund: the showcase meal featured 22 “new and improved” foods, including modified milk containing increased nonfat milk solids and decreased butter, dehydrofrozen peas, orange juice reconstituted from a dehydrated powder, beef and pork grown with newly discovered hormones and antibiotics added, and “butter prepared, presumably, by the usual methods.”

You've got to be fucking kidding me. Healthy eating as the most modified and adjusted from normal? Fuck that noise, I'll be out with Eisenhower chasing cows. I'll just have to raise them myself to avoid scifi-level freaky 'newly discovered' hormones.

*shudders*
posted by geek anachronism at 3:38 PM on May 11, 2010


_paegan_ , I do agree that bad nutrition, especially in the early years, can lead to poor school performance, resulting in a long-term effect of non-achievement. Still, poverty is the root cause here; many parents do not have the time or education to provide good meals for their children. From a PR perspective, the childhood obesity focus, coming from a wealthy parent of privilege with two slender children, smacks of elitism.
posted by Morrigan at 4:25 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kanye West: "Michelle Obama hates fat kids!"
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:43 PM on May 11, 2010


From a PR perspective, the childhood obesity focus, coming from a wealthy parent of privilege with two slender children, smacks of elitism.

So, we don't try to solve the problem because poor children are disproportionally affected by crappy food? That seems ridiculous to me. Poor children are also disproportionally more likely to be illiterate, because parents who work two jobs don't have time for reading to their kids. They are also disproportionally more likely to suffer from childhood asthma, at least in my part of the world, because many poor communities are near heavy industry or agriculture. I'm just not getting how people with the resources attempting to make a dent in these problems is elitist.

Food equality is a real issue here in Oakland, with the only grocery store in West Oakland having closed a couple years ago. That leaves an entirely community with the option of shopping for HFCS crap at one of the 57 liquor stores in the area. Many grass roots organizations are working to address this by holding farmer's markets, bringing businesses that sell fresh produce at reasonable prices to the neighborhoods, and teaching people how to install and grow their own vegetable gardens. Lots of Oakland schools have school garden programs now, too. There are several organizations working to remake the National School Lunch Program, which is a completely abysmal example of healthy eating, though it's the only decent meal many kids around here get. If you think that people in Oakland have an issue with Michele Obama working the same problem from her position as first lady, I think you'd have to change your mind after you spoke to any of them.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:16 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


From a PR perspective, the childhood obesity focus, coming from a wealthy parent of privilege with two slender children, smacks of elitism.

Whereas Laura Bush focusing on literacity is good PR as we all understand her ongoing struggles with George.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:24 PM on May 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a scientist at the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center I think that this is an awesome post. And I want a steak.
posted by wintermind at 5:54 PM on May 11, 2010


More recent presidential aspirants have also enjoyed squirrel.
posted by gimonca at 5:59 PM on May 11, 2010


Has anyone done this Eisenhower 4"-thick-straight-on-charcoal method? It sound like a delicious cancerous artery plugger.
posted by pashdown at 6:20 PM on May 11, 2010


Dehydrofrozen peas... is that the same thing as lyophilized?
posted by porpoise at 8:06 PM on May 11, 2010


I see your point, Morrigan - I hadn't thought of it from that angle. As oneirodynia detailed, both of the problems are rooted in poverty. Perhaps childhood obesity is a little off target if the goal is healthier children over-all.
posted by _paegan_ at 8:55 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


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