Happy Presidents’ Day! There are no scandals here today, we are merely exploring what a few of our presidents have enjoyed for breakfast. While American presidents are mere mortals, we don’t give much thought to them eating breakfast. We know that they attend diplomatic luncheons, host state dinners, and visit hot dog stands, state fairs, and ice cream parlors while out on the campaign trail. Maybe they have eaten a lot of pizza.
The Spy Test Kitchens wondered how presidents like to start their days. Do they skip the food and just start drinking coffee while scanning the headlines? Or do they nibble at abstemious bowls of museli twigs and sticks with almond milk? Some of them enjoyed riotously enormous feasts, while others are just like us, and delight in a celebratory plate of waffles and maple syrup. This is America, and we are a large and diverse cross section of humanity. Just don’t be like Harry S. Truman, and have a shot of bourbon with your breakfast. https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/harry-s-truman-started-every-day-with-bourbon
Dutch settlers first brought waffles to America, but legend has it that Thomas Jefferson, while he was ambassador to France, was introduced to the waffle in the 18th century, along with ice cream, French fries, fine wines, and soufflés. He shipped four waffle irons back to his Monticello estate, and started a waffle craze in colonial America. There were two family waffle recipes found among his granddaughter’s papers; one called for butter, milk, flour, and yeast, with a short note that reads, “Some persons eat waffles with butter, sugar, and powdered cinnamon.” https://gardenandgun.com/articles/a-pressing-mystery-thomas-jefferson-and-the-waffle/
This is a little more precise:
3 eggs, separated
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
Beat egg yolks vigorously. Add cream. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to cream and egg mixture. In small bowl, beat egg whites until small peaks form. Fold into batter. Let batter chill for half hour.
Grease and preheat waffle iron. Cook waffles until lightly browned.
Our modern, non-stick, electric waffle irons are more convenient, and precise, than trying to cook waffles over a fire, in a heavy long-handled iron waffle pan.
Other presidents were also fond of waffles. William Howard Taft, he of great girth and enormous bath tubs, ate huge breakfasts: “grapefruit, potted partridge, broiled venison, grilled partridge, waffles with maple syrup and butter, hominy, hot rolls, bacon, and more venison.” https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/all-the-presidents-ranked-in-order-of-how-much-they-loved-breakfast
Teddy Roosevelt is my favorite coffee-swilling president. He started drinking black coffee at breakfast, while consuming his daily hard boiled eggs, and continued tossing back strong coffee throughout the day. It was once estimated that he drank 40 cups a day. It was Roosevelt who declared that Maxwell House coffee was, “good to the last drop.” Indeed! https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/teddy-roosevelt-drank-an-unholy-amount-of-coffee
But back to our waffle fanciers: Warren G. Harding, after playing poker late into the night, liked waffles for breakfast. If I had a White House cook, I might have waffles, too.
This recipe from The White House Cookbook of 1887 is alarmingly vague – WAFFLES:
“Take a quart of flour and wet it with a little sweet milk that has been boiled and cooled, then stir in enough of the milk to form a thick batter. Add a tablespoonful of melted butter, a teaspoonful of salt, and yeast to raise it. When light add two well-beaten eggs, heat your waffle-iron, grease it well and fill it with the batter. Two or three minutes will suffice to bake on one side; then turn the iron over, and when brown on both sides the cake is done. Serve immediately.”
The Kennedy family had a much-requested recipe for waffles:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder (or 4 teaspoons)
Preheat and grease a waffle iron according the directions.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and beat until combined.
Alternately add the flour and buttermilk.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
When ready to make the waffles, fold in the egg whites and baking powder. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
Bake in the waffle iron and serve with warm maple syrup and melted butter.
The Kennedys all looked too thin to have actually ever eaten a sandwich, let alone a stick of butter, but we’ll believe this PR. https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/jackie-kennedy-had-a-really-great-waffle-recipe
There are no waffle breakfasts in the current White House. The President and Dr. Biden make their own eggs, or pour out a bowlful of Special K. They like to keep things simple. https://people.com/politics/joe-biden-jill-breakfast-white-house-tonight-show-jimmy-fallon/
I remember celebrating both Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday as days off from school. Didn’t you make construction paper cherry trees, and stove pipe hats, too? Pity the youth of today – they only get Presidents’ Day off. I hope they can start their holiday off right with some of Mrs. Kennedy’s waffles, before getting to the serious business of being kids. Hope they are reading some banned books, too.
“We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.”
― Leslie Knope
Letters to Editor
Bishop Joel Marcus Johnson says
Oh, you are my new best friend. Our son just gave me a quart of private reserve maple syrup from a friend in Vermont.