As you might have heard, President-elect Obama will be using Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Bible when he is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.
Lincoln is, of course, a major inspiration to the President-elect and a strong influence on the themes of the upcoming inauguration.
So we know you’re waiting with baited breath, as are we, to find out whether Obama is going to serve Lincoln’s favorite scalloped oysters — the recipe for which contained sherry as well as Worcestershire sauce and cracker crumbs. While this delicacy was not included on either of Lincoln’s inaugural menus, pickled oysters were served at the second inaugural. Yum! (No, seriously, that sounds good to me.)
White House cuisine has changed a bit with the times. Although French cuisine is still popular for state dinners, our contemporary presidents seem to be leaning toward Tex-Mex fare. On Inauguration Day you might wish to plan your own presidential menu. You could start off with Barbara Bush’s Mexican Mound (corn chips, ground meat and taco seasoning), followed by Bill Clinton’s favorite chicken enchiladas, topped with Laura Bush’s guacamole and served with LBJ’s “ranch spiced tea.” For dessert, jump back in time and serve Lincoln’s favorite lemon custard pie.
If Tex-Mex is not your thing, try Harry Truman’s tuna and noodle casserole with white cheese sauce and Pat Nixon’s baked stuffed tomatoes. If this seems too healthy, indulge a little with the Carter family’s peanut refrigerator cake or Warren Harding’s favorite bourbon balls. In moderation, of course.
Or maybe you want to celebrate the inauguration by using recipes from the time of our Founding Fathers, such as Martha Washington’s “Great Cake,” Thomas Jefferson’s macaroons or Dolly Madison’s pink peppermint ice cream. To wet your whistle, try John Adams’ “berry shrub” (blackberry or raspberry juice, sugar, brandy and rum), James Madison’s favorite whiskey sours (lemons, water, sugar, and aged bourbon whiskey, 100 proof), or a fine wine from Monticello.
Presidential food and entertaining at the White House always seem to capture people’s interest. The Library of Congress Science Reference Section frequently fields a number of queries relating to presidential cuisine. Take a look at science reference specialist Alison Kelly’s Presidential Food Guide for more information about cooking and entertaining in the White House.
Image: Executive pastry chefs during Bill Clinton’s tenure prepare a gingerbread White House.
(Mad props to Jennifer Harbster in our Science, Technology and Business division for helping with this post!)