noshing with the presidents, or, who doesn’t like beets?

“I think ‘Hail to the Chief’ has a nice ring to it.” ~ John F. Kennedy

Happy President’s Day!

Hope you’re enjoying your holiday weekend.

Washington at Madame Tussaud’s, Washington, D.C.

As I mentioned in my last Poetry Friday post, I have a lot of fun discovering little known facts or quirky bits and bobs about our Presidents. What I love most is learning about their food habits and preferences.

Did you know Lincoln had the smallest appetite of all the Presidents, often being happy with just an apple and cheese and crackers for dinner? (But he did love a good pecan pie.) Because of his bad teeth, Washington favored soft foods like fish, and Calvin Coolidge, a very thrifty man, reduced the amount of meat served at State Dinners because he considered it an extravagance. He preferred breakfast meetings because they were cheaper, but here’s where he wins my heart: he hosted “alphabetical breakfasts,” inviting congressmen alphabetically according to their last names. The menu, which was always the same, consisted of sausage, bacon, eggs, buckwheat pancakes, corn muffins, grapefruit, toast and coffee. Cute, no?

One of my favorite books on this subject is Sarah Hood Salomon’s Politics & Pot Roast (Bright Sky Press, 2006). It contains recipes connected to all 43 Presidents — original and favorite recipes of the Presidents and First Ladies, as well as updated adaptations of recipes from the periods they were in office. Brief anecdotes and quotes add lots of flavor and spice, perfect tidbits to impress the guests at your next dinner party. I hope to make some of these dishes during 2012 since it’s an election year and all, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, if you’re hungry for some POTUS fodder today, you may wish to check out my Presidential Food Series (I’m waving to all you new subscribers). Put on your red, white and blue bibs and enjoy!

Why not bake a cherry pie?


“They say I need to be seasoned; they say I need to be stewed. They say, ‘We need to boil all the hope out of him — like us — and then he’ll be ready.'” ~ Barack Obama


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


photo by Doug Focht

On a beautiful, warm Saturday night recently, Len and I headed over to Old Town Alexandria for dinner at the Majestic Café. You may remember my mentioning that Mrs. Obama hosted a birthday dinner there for her mother, Marian Robinson, this past summer.

Of course we had to check it out. (This is my favorite kind of “blog homework.”)

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jared and jama dish on alan wong’s pineapple room

“Wong has always been able to take well-loved and highly recognizable dishes and put a spin on them, and nowhere is this talent more apparent than at The Pineapple Room.” ~ Jo McGarry, Midweek.

    photo credit: Tina Yuen, PBN

Pictured above is internationally acclaimed chef and restaurateur Alan Wong, whose name is synonymous with the best of Hawai’i Regional Cuisine. Last month when we were on O’ahu, we treated ourselves and nine of our favorite relatives to dinner at The Pineapple Room, one of three restaurants Wong owns in Hawai’i.

Though I had dined before at his flagship restaurant in downtown Honolulu (an Obama favorite), and loved his creative dishes which blend different ethnic cooking styles, this was my first time at The Pineapple Room. 

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eating out with the obamas

Sampling a peach at Kroger’s Supermarket in Bristol, VA (July 2009).

Do I dare to eat a peach?

Thanks to this man, I can proudly say, “Yes!”

Exactly one year ago today, the very first African American was elected President of the United States. On that day, the universe, and our consciousness, shifted (and my heart soared to the stars and beyond). A President born in Hawai’i? Surely now anything is possible.

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happy birthday, abe!

“My dream is of a place and a time where America will be seen as the last best hope of earth.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln with his son, Tad, as photographed by Matthew B. Brady (February, 1864)

Our greatest President is 200 years young today. 

Wherever he is, he’s probably thrilled about who’s occupying his former digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Lincoln would be especially pleased to see Malia and Sasha living there, since he was the first President to bring his own small children to live in the White House.

Abe was an indulgent parent, who loved to wrestle with his sons. They provided much needed relief from the tensions of the war, sometimes throwing strawberries around at Cabinet meetings, climbing on furniture, and scattering papers.

Strawberries? Hmmm. What else did our 16th President like to eat? He was our tallest at 6’4″, so it seems he would have had a large appetite, but most historians disagree.

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