In today's Media Mix, Rick Bayless' potential West Loop restaurant, plus Alton Brown's newest TV show
The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.
Obama's Favorite Food: The president told a young journalist that his favorite food is broccoli, prompting the question, "Really?" [CBS News]
Alton Brown's New Show: Watch a preview of Alton Brown's upcoming show, Cutthroat Kitchen. [Eater]
Rick Bayless' New Project: Rumor has it the Chicago chef is working on a West Loop concept, near trendy spots Girl & the Goat and Next. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Carjacking Ice Cream: A man in Washington, D.C. carjacked an ice cream truck last night, taking money, cellphones, and we presume a scoop or two of ice cream. [Washington Post]
You know how you feel the need to nosh when you’re under stress? Imagine how much stress eating our nation’s presidents engage in. From weird (cottage cheese and ketchup) to decadent (Big Macs) to downright nutritious (almonds), take a look at the top cravings of these commanders in chief.
Credit: (2) Gilbert Stuart (3) Pete Souza
Get an exclusive first look at Michelle Obama’s new kids’ show about cooking
Naturally, one of the burning questions about the Obamas and their eating habits was . can Barack cook?
According to Obama, he can and she didn't have to teach him. The Harvard-educated politician came into their marriage 28 years ago with a few go-to recipes he excelled at preparing.
"He came cooking. But he had like sort of his three recipes. He made a mean chili, he could do a good stir fry and great omelets," Obama said about her husband. "So he kind of had his wheelhouse and he stayed in that lane, ya know. But he could cook."
As for Malia and Sasha, who have been spending a lot of time at home during the pandemic, Obama said they too "were curious about cooking" from a young age.
"We had a period when we were really switching from food that you get in a box. We were really trying to make sure our kids were eating fresh food," she said. "So we cleared out our refrigerator, and the one thing that the kids wanted to keep was that boxed macaroni and cheese. They were like 'Mom don't make us throw this out.'"
Obama, like many moms might, made "a deal" with her kids (aka a proposition that ultimately proves the parent's point). She told them if they could figure out how to make the powdered cheese using real ingredients from the kitchen, they could keep the processed version of the cheesy, kid-favorite dish.
According to the advocate and author, her elder daughter Malia gave it her best shot — trying to figure out the process with a little butter knife and some cheese, but couldn't create the processed stuff. After that, they learned to enjoy the goodness of mac and real melted cheese . and Obama knows the secret to make deliciously cheesy dishes.
8 Presidents’ Day Recipes Based on Famed Hated Foods of the Commanders-in-Chief
Being Commander-in-Chief comes with certain privileges, chief among them, having a staff available to supply you with as much of your favorite foods as you want. Alternately, and perhaps a bigger privilege (especially if you are George H.W. Bush), is never having to eat your least favorite foods. Did he actually never eat broccoli again, I wonder? The American people demand an answer!
Information about the Presidents’ favorite foods goes back to George Washington before the digital age it seems that Americans were still interested to know what their nation’s leaders preferred for lunch, and White House kitchen staff often testified to what was typically requested by the respective Presidents. The White House stationary under Richard Nixon was eventually printed with his wife’s meatloaf recipe, in response for thousands of requests for it.
Less is known about various Presidents’ least favorite foods, but there are a few well-documented cases, a few assumptions that can be made based on the principle of opposites, and a handful of instances where a particular food was…problematic. We’ll consider all of these fair game for designing a Presidents’ Day menu fit to piss off the Executive Branch.
Rutherford B. Hayes: Devil’s Food Cake
It’s not that President Hayes despised Devil’s Food Cake. I mean, how could any person with a stated dislike for chocolate ever make it to the highest office in the land in the first place? It’s that his stated favorite was Angel Food Cake, and I can only imagine how a mis-translated instruction could have resulted in some casual disappointment on his part during a foreign dinner. Here’s a recipe for a Mexican Devil’s Food Cake, because what’s more opposite from a simple and light Angel Food Cake than a rich, spicy, chocolate one? Also: Mexico. We all know how certain presidents feel about that. Get our Mexican Devil’s Food Cake recipe .
Grover Cleveland: Coq au Vin
President Cleveland will not be having any French food, thank you very much. The president whose actual favorite was Corned Beef and Cabbage let it slip that he didn’t much care for French cuisine. In either of his presidencies. (Furiously googles United States/France relations between 1885 and 1897.) So here’s a classic French selection if you are disinclined to chant “Cleveland rocks!” this Presidents Day. Get the Coq au Vin recipe .
Theodore Roosevelt: Waffles
In 1906 The Washington Post was forced to print a correction after President Roosevelt insisted that the typical White House breakfast he enjoyed was simply “hard boiled eggs,” and not the lavish feast that the Post suggested, which included everything from fresh fruits to lamb chops to waffles. So treat yourself to brunch if you’d like to start your day the non-Roosevelt way, lamb chops optional. Get our Apple-Cinnamon Waffles recipe .
Gerald Ford: Tamales
Teresa Fogard / EyeEm / Getty Images
President Ford was lucky to have not served during the time of internet memes, after he famously bit into a tamale without first removing the inedible corn husk wrapper. Memes or no memes, Gerald Ford failed to win reelection, so if the tamale fits…Wait! Is this about Mexico again? Get our Pork Mole Tamales recipe .
Ronald Reagan: Weird Flavor Jelly Beans
President Reagan famously loved jelly beans, a quaint addiction he picked up in an effort to quit smoking. While his somewhat polarizing favorite flavor was licorice, I suspect he would not be pleased to know that Jelly Belly has gone the way of outlandish, off-flavor beans, often disguised as more appealing flavors. Other notable world leaders such as Albus Dumbledore have been known to react in a good-natured way upon selecting an Ear Wax flavored candy, but then jelly beans weren’t his favorite food. I don’t think President Reagan could have been expected to react so kindly to a Moldy Cheese one.
Jelly Belly BeanBoozled Game, $14.98 on Amazon
Dare to play jelly bean roulette? You might end up with something delightful, or something disgusting.
George H.W. Bush: Broccoli
George Herbert Walker Bush may be the only president to actually declare war on a particular food, and to invoke presidential privilege in defying his mother’s attempts to get him to eat his vegetables. For those of us revolutionary broccoli lovers, there are so many recipes to choose from, but I thought a quiche seemed like the best option for aggravating a Texan. Get our Broccoli, Mushroom, and Gouda Quiche recipe .
George W. Bush: Pretzels
George W. Bush was actually one of the more health-and-fitness forward Presidents, though he was certainly eclipsed in this category by the Obama family. George W.’s food nemesis came in the form of a simple pretzel that choked him to the point of nearly losing consciousness. If you’re feeling sympathetic, a soft pretzel isn’t likely to cause too much harm, or else there’s this sweet sundae, topped with those weapons of mass destruction. Get our Carnival Ice Cream Sundae recipe .
Donald Trump: Steak Tartare
This is a fair assumption, is it not? Raw meat from the land of the weak. Ketchup optional. Learn how to make steak tartare .
The Obamas' dog Bo dies at 12: 'He was exactly what we needed'
The Obama family’s dog, Bo, died at age 12 on Saturday after a battle with cancer.
Former President Barack Obama revealed the heartbreaking news on Instagram and Twitter, sharing a series of photos of Bo throughout the years, including a shot of the two running through the halls of the White House. He took to the caption to share a touching note about Bo and his companionship for over a decade.
“Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion. For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives—happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between,” Obama wrote in the caption. “He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair. He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.”
Michelle Obama shared her own post honoring the 12-year-old dog, signed by her entire family, including their second dog, Sunny. She posted a carousel of photos of Bo, including a shot at a White House Egg Roll, sitting behind the desk at the Oval Office and cuddling alongside the former first lady.
“This afternoon was a difficult one for our family. We said goodbye to our best friend—our dog, Bo—after a battle with cancer,” she wrote in the caption. “On the campaign trail in 2008, we promised our daughters that we would get a puppy after the election. At the time, Bo was supposed to be a companion for the girls. We had no idea how much he would mean to all of us.”
Michelle Obama described Bo as a “constant, comforting” presence in her family’s life over the decades, greeting their daughters Malia and Sasha, with a tail wag every time they came home from school.
“He was there when Barack and I needed a break, sauntering into one of our offices like he owned the place, a ball clamped firmly in his teeth,” she continued. “He was there when we flew on Air Force One, when tens of thousands flocked to the South Lawn for the Easter Egg Roll, and when the Pope came to visit. And when our lives slowed down, he was there, too—helping us see the girls off to college and adjust to life as empty nesters.”
She added, “This past year, with everyone back home during the pandemic, no one was happier than Bo. All his people were under one roof again—just like the day we got him. I will always be grateful that Bo and the girls got to spend so much time together at the end.”
The former first lady said that as a family, they will all miss Bo dearly, but are thankful that he was able to live a joyful life “full of snuggles, games of fetch, and evenings spent lying on the couch.”
The former president publicly promised his daughters a puppy, then 10 and 7, during his victory speech in Chicago on Nov. 4, 2008, and he kept up his end of the bargain. Malia and Sasha picked the black-and-white 6-moth old Portuguese water dog themselves in addition to Bo’s adorable name, party stemming from R&B musician Bo Diddley, as the former first lady's father was nicknamed Diddley.
Bo was welcomed into the White House in April 2009, with the former president even admitting that he had “star quality” right off the bat. Five years later, the Obama family got their second Portuguese water dog, Sunny, to join Bo as his little sister.
The Most Interesting Food Served at the White House
Presidential eating habits are a hot topic, though the most interesting ones to read about are generally the quirks and the faux pas, from Reagan’s jelly bean dependency to Bush Jr. choking on a pretzel, and from Obama being accused of elitism for liking Dijon on his burger to the well-documented (and derided) culinary proclivities of the current commander-in-chief.
The Original White House Cook Book: Cooking, Etiquette, Menus and More from the Executive Estate, $19.99 at Target
Plenty of presidential cookbooks came after, but this was the first compendium of recipes (plus etiquette and cleaning tips) from the White House, originally published in 1887—with a whole section on Catsups.
Of course, every administration hosts fancy State Dinners, but not every presidential meal is so high-falutin’—or even all that appetizing in some cases. To wit, and in no particular order, here are some of the humbler—and hence, generally more interesting—White House food moments you may have missed.
FDR’s Awful Cook
The most infamous cook in White House history was Henrietta Nesbitt, who worked for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and once served hot dogs to British royalty (King George IV and Queen Elizabeth). The hot dogs were probably passable since Mrs. Nesbitt presumably bought them ready-made, but her home-cooked meals like liver and string beans were legendarily bad—so much so that it was common for White House visitors in the know to eat before they arrived. Eleanor liked to take the reins herself on Sundays, when she often cooked communal batches of scrambled eggs in a chafing dish at the table, which sounds like a rather charming relief.
LBJ’s Hummus and Fresca (and Lady Bird’s Rice Krispies Cheese Crackers)
President Johnson didn’t eat any of these together, that we know of, and obviously there’s nothing weird about hummus itself, but he pushed the limits of his fancy French chef (René Verdon, a holdover from the Kennedy years) with his abiding love for barbecue and other down-home vittles that the Gallic gastronome deemed inappropriate for entertaining White House guests. When LBJ asked for “cold garbanzo bean dip” at one meal, it was the last straw, and Verdon quit.
No word on what Monsieur thought about Lady Bird Johnson’s cheese wafers recipe, which calls for 2 cups of Rice Krispies cereal, but he probably didn’t approve. Ditto the president’s unquenchable thirst for Fresca, which was so great that he had a button installed in the Oval Office that summoned a staffer to come bearing the diet soda. (Other sources say it was a literal Fresca dispenser, but either way, that’s dedication—or addiction.)
Nixon’s Cottage Cheese with Ketchup
Cottage cheese with condiments, from Fred Rockwood/flickr
Tricky Dick is still the only president associated with California (so far!), and they are known as health nuts, so that explains the cottage cheese at least, but…ketchup? Apparently soup was out of the question because he couldn’t eat it without making a mess, and he couldn’t eat his wife’s lean ground beef meatloaf all the time. So: ketchup and cottage cheese. Nixon wasn’t alone in his love for this questionable combo, either Gerald Ford reportedly ate cottage cheese covered in catsup (though some say it was A-1 steak sauce) for nearly every lunch.
Eisenhower’s Prune Whip
Prune Whip, from Vintage Recipe Cards
Dwight D. Eisenhower was, by all accounts, a good cook and often made his own meals, like cornmeal pancakes and charbroiled steaks, but one of his favorite desserts was prune whip, which you may never have heard of, which is probably for good reason. It’s basically just prune pulp (and sometimes gelatin) mixed with beaten-fluffy egg whites. While that does not sound terribly appetizing, Elaine Liner for the Dallas Observer says it’s “light, slightly chewy, not too sweet and tastes sort of delicately old-fashioned.” Still, may we suggest our Drunken Prune-Mascarpone Trifle for a fancier and more modern alternative?
Chester A. Arthur’s Rhode Island Eels (and Macaroni Pie with Oysters)
You probably don’t think of eels as a distinctly American ingredient, or even as food, if you think of them at all, but they were an important historical food source in New England, starting well before the colonists came on the scene and continuing for some time after—in fact, there was even a period in which little-regarded lobsters were used as eel bait. At least as late as the 1880s, noted gourmand Chester A. Arthur still ate eels with relish (not literally, although maybe). Another dish he enjoyed was fried macaroni pie with oysters, and while we’re not sure what exactly that might have tasted like, there is at least one extant modern recipe for oyster mac and cheese if you’re tempted.
All the presidents’ meals: The history of inaugural food
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WASHINGTON — When Donald Trump sits down to the table in Statuary Hall for lunch on Jan. 20, it’s safe to say his feast will be calm compared with Andrew Jackson’s first inaugural meal.
After Jackson was sworn in as the nation’s seventh president in 1829, about 20,000 people followed him back to the White House to celebrate with their new leader.
“Then, you could just practically walk in with no invitation, and they just mobbed the White House — climbing on the furniture to see the president,” said Alison Kelly, a research specialist at the Library of Congress .
Jackson’s kitchen staff brought barrels of spiked orange punch, a popular celebratory drink in the 1800s, out to the East Room, and chaos ensued.
“Buckets were spilled, glasses were broken,” Kelly said.
President Jackson eventually slipped out through the back door of the White House and ate his inaugural dinner in peace at a boardinghouse.
Ulysses S. Grant’s first meal as president in 1869 wasn’t much better. It turned into a full-fledged food fight.
“After a couple of hours dancing, they announced the buffet, and people just rushed the buffet, grabbing all of the food and shoving each other,” Kelly said.
When it comes to inaugural celebrations, plenty of things have changed since Jackson’s and Grant’s times — security, for starters. But over the years, food has remained a focus.
The first meal Donald Trump will eat as president of the United States is lunch at the U.S. Capitol, a tradition that dates back to 1897 when the Senate Committee on Arrangements hosted a luncheon for President McKinley. In 1953, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies took over the menu planning and hosting responsibilities for the event.
The food served at the inaugural luncheon is often a reflection of the interests or roots of the incoming president. In 1961, Massachusetts-born John F. Kennedy dined on New England boiled stuffed lobster with drawn butter and deviled crabmeat imperial Ronald Reagan’s menu in 1981 included a California garden salad .
Barack Obama’s first inaugural luncheon was Lincoln-themed, since it was the bicentennial of the 16th president’s birth. Herb-roasted pheasant and duck breast with cherry chutney were a few of the dishes served.
However, not every meal has been as delicious as Kennedy’s, Reagan’s and Obama’s.
Kelly, who recently organized a presidential food installation at the Library of Congress, says Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fourth inaugural luncheon was especially bad.
Roosevelt requested chicken a la king from the first lady’s housekeeper and cook, Henrietta Nesbitt, but the notoriously strict and austere New England cook refused.
“She said she couldn’t keep it hot for 1,800 people, so she switched to cold chicken salad on a lettuce leaf and cake with no frosting,” Kelly said.
To make matters worse, details published in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America say some of the chicken had spoiled and could not be used.
“Her food was very plain, and evidently FDR complained about it constantly,” Kelly added.
With music, gifts and several courses of food, planning the inaugural luncheon is no easy feat. But in 1977, the committee got a break. Jimmy Carter canceled his luncheon, decided to walk the entire parade route (he was the first president to do so) and threw informal “parties” instead of elaborate balls.
“They were very low-cost and relaxed, and he served pretzels and peanuts,” Kelly said.
Of course, not every president celebrates the assumption of office so modestly. Kelly said James Buchanan’s 1857 inaugural meal had 400 gallons of oysters, 500 quarts of chicken salad, 1,200 quarts of ice cream, eight rounds of beef, 75 hams, 60 saddles of mutton, four saddles of venison and $3,000 worth of wine — “Which was a huge amount at that time,” Kelly added.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has yet to announce the menu for President-elect Trump’s inaugural luncheon, but past menus and recipes — including one for the lobster pie served at the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush — are available on the committee’s website.
Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday challenged youth activists on their “purity” and “judgmentalism” during an interview about youth activism at the Obama Foundation summit.
You know, this idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly. The world, the world is messy. There are ambiguities. 00:00:16.440 —> 00:00:22.450 People who do really good stuff have flaws. Like if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the word – wrong verb or then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because, “Man, you see how woke I was, I called you out.” I get on TV. Watch my show. Watch “Grown-ish.” You know, that’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change.
Former President Barack Obama made a rare foray into the cultural conversation this week, objecting to the prevalence of “call-out culture” and “wokeness” during an interview about youth activism at the Obama Foundation summit on Tuesday.
For more than an hour, Mr. Obama sat onstage with the actress Yara Shahidi and several other young leaders from around the world. The conversation touched on “leadership, grass roots change and the power places have to shape our journeys,” the Obama Foundation said, but it was his remarks about young activists that have ricocheted around the internet, mostly receiving praise from a cohort of bipartisan and intergenerational supporters.
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically ‘woke’ and all that stuff,” Mr. Obama said. “You should get over that quickly.”
“The world is messy there are ambiguities,” he continued. “People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids, and share certain things with you.”
Mr. Obama spoke repeatedly of the role of social media in activism specifically, including the idea of what’s become known as “cancel culture,” which is much remarked upon, but still nebulously defined. It tends to refer to behavior that mostly plays out on the internet when someone has said or done something to which others object. That person is then condemned in a flurry of social media posts. Such people are often referred to as “canceled,” a way of saying that many others (and perhaps the places at which they work) are fed up with them and will have no more to do with them.
Mr. Obama talked about conversations he’s had with his daughter Malia, who is a student at Harvard with Ms. Shahidi.
“I do get a sense sometimes now among certain young people, and this is accelerated by social media, there is this sense sometimes of: ‘The way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people,’” he said, “and that’s enough.”
“Like, if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb,” he said, “then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, cause, ‘Man, you see how woke I was, I called you out.’”
Then he pretended to sit back and press the remote to turn on a television.
“That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change,” he said. “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.”
The audience erupted in applause, which was echoed by conservative pundits like Ann Coulter.
“Good for Obama,” Ms. Coulter tweeted on Wednesday night, adding a parenthetical: “Not sarcastic!”
Tomi Lahren, a conservative political commentator, said on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday that Mr. Obama’s comments made him look like “the voice of reason” and that “that’s when you know the Democratic Party has gotten this bad.”
“What’s really nice to hear is Barack Obama standing up for our rights and our values of the First Amendment,” Ms. Lahren said. “Just remember that we used to think Barack Obama was bad.”
Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic presidential candidate and a congresswoman from Mr. Obama’s home state of Hawaii, seized on his words as a campaign message for her supporters.
“In a nutshell, Obama is saying we all need a little more aloha spirit,” she tweeted. “Being respectful & caring for one another. Not being so quick to judge. Not seeing everything as black/white. I hope you’ll join me in bringing the spirit of aloha to the White House.”
Another Democratic presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, also championed the message on Twitter.
“He is right on all counts,” Mr. Yang said.
Others called out the 44th president for being “paternalistic.”
Michael Arceneaux, the author of “I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé,” said he didn’t “need lessons about ‘being woke’ and ‘cancel culture’” in an op-ed for The Independent.
“I am never quite sure if Obama really thinks this naïvely or if he’s trying to convince certain sects of the population — notably young black folks, whom he just loves to lecture — that it’s better to coddle white people about their prejudices with the hopes of growth rather than speak our minds as we see fit,” he said.
Since leaving office in January 2017, the former president has mostly remained out of the public fray. Most of his appearances have focused on discussing the integrity of the political system and similar themes.
Following tradition, Mr. Obama initially refrained from publicly criticizing his successor. But during the run-up to the 2018 midterms, he called President Donald J. Trump a threat to American values while speaking to students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
He has occasionally returned to the campaign trail to rally black voters and, more recently, has been working behind the scenes to advise Democratic presidential hopefuls. But he has yet to make an endorsement.
Michelle Obama Dishes on Husband Barack's Cooking Skills
Barack Obama knows his way around a kitchen!
On Tuesday, March 23's all-new E! News' Daily Pop, Michelle Obama dished on her husband's cooking skills while promoting her new Netflix show, Waffles + Mochi. According to the former First Lady, the 44th President of the United States had three specialties when they first got married.
"He came cooking," she told E!'s Justin Sylvester. "But he had like, sort of, his three recipes."
As the healthy eating advocate continued, she revealed that Mr. Obama made "a mean chili," "a good stir fry" and "great omelets."
"So, he had kind of his…wheelhouse," she noted. "He stayed in that lane, but he could cook."
As for daughters Sasha and Malia Obama? Michelle said they were "curious about cooking" when they were growing up.
"We had a period, when we were really switching from food that you get in a box, we were really trying to make sure that our kids were eating fresh foods," she recalled. "So, we cleared out the refrigerator and the one thing the kids wanted to keep was the boxed macaroni and cheese."
Apparently, Michelle challenged her kids to transform a block of cheese into the powder substance used in boxed products. If they could do that, Sasha and Malia could have the boxed macaroni and cheese.
"So, Malia sidled up to the stove with a little butter knife and a block of cheese," Michelle shared. "And she cut and she cut and she cut, and she couldn't turn it into powder because the powder's not real cheese."
Michelle's daughters ultimately learned that "great macaroni and cheese" comes from real cheese. For all of this and more, including Michelle's favorite foods, watch the full exclusive interview above.
You can catch more advice from Mrs. Obama on Waffles + Mochi, which is streaming now on Netflix.
Now that Obama is no longer a resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, perhaps she'll have more time for travel, which she loves. In an interview with Food & Wine, she shared that travel is important to her. She also encourages everyone to get out of their comfort zone when they're abroad, as long as it's safe to do so.
So where would she want to go first? "Spain has so much incredible food," she said. "I like anything with jamón, cheese, olives, bread and olive oil. I could eat that forever."
Obama might not have to go so far to have those delicious foods, as she became friends with a celebrated Spanish-American chef while they were in the White House. "Barack and I met José Andrés when we first came to Washington and to the White House. We learned about him through his phenomenal restaurants, which are among our very favorites in DC," she said. "I could sometimes sneak out with friends for dinner, and José's restaurants were places of comfort, great food, good drinks and friendship."