Presented in collaboration with Bank Square Books.
The U.S. presidents have been hosts to some of the most significant moments in our history over meals at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And during such occasions, they have understood the value of breaking bread with both friends and foes. Inspired by the first reporting from inside the White House kitchen by his great-aunt Julia Child, Alex Prud’homme studies the tastes of twenty-six of America’s most influential presidents—what they ate, why they ate it, how their meals were prepared and by whom, what it tells us about the state of the nation, and the ways in which their administrations’ food policies affected people around the world. What our leaders say about food touches on everything from our nation’s shifting diet and local politics to global trade, science, religion, war, class, gender, race, and so much more.
And food is not just fuel when it is served to the most powerful people in the world. It is a tool of communication, a lever of power and persuasion, a form of entertainment, and a symbol of the nation—take Thomas Jefferson’s nation-building receptions in the new capital Washington, D.C.; Ulysses S. Grant’s state dinner for the king of Hawaii; Booker T. Washington’s groundbreaking supper with Teddy Roosevelt; Richard Nixon’s practiced use of chopsticks to pry open China; and Jimmy Carter’s détente between Israel and Egypt at Camp David.
As each president grew into their distinguished role, their personal tastes also evolved the White House menus over time—from simple eggs and black coffee for Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and celebratory turtle soup after, to squirrel stew for Dwight Eisenhower, jelly beans and enchiladas for Ronald Reagan, and arugula for Barack Obama. Prud’homme also pulls back the curtain on overlooked figures like George Washington’s enslaved chef, Hercules Posey, whose meals burnished the president’s reputation before the cook narrowly escaped to freedom, or pioneering First Ladies, such as Dolley Madison and Jackie Kennedy, who used food and entertaining to build political and social relationships.
Included are ten authentic recipes for favorite presidential dishes, such as:
• Martha Washington’s Preserved Cherries
• Abraham Lincoln’s Gingerbread Men
• William H. Taft’s Billy Bi Mussel Soup
• Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Reverse Martini
• Lady Bird Johnson’s Pedernales River Chili
We have TWO ticketing options-- $50 Admission includes a copy of the book. $20 General Admission only. Additional books will be available for sale/to order at the event.
Space is limited;get your tickets at LaGruaCenter.org now!