In last week's Food section, the Washington Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia cooked up a look at various First Families and their respective Thanksgiving traditions. While overall not that bad a feature, the current residents at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue received a fair bit of mushy treatment, especially for incorporating the produce of their organic White House garden into the Thanksgiving feast. [h/t my lovely wife Laura, who is hard at work on our Thanksgiving feast today]
What's more there will be "No creamy, gloppy, fattening dressing, either," Roig-Franzia gushed approvingly. "Their fresh produce will be dappled with a dressing that would make a dietitian beam, blended from shallots, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil." The Post staffer likewise included some vignettes about the last Democratic first family, the Clintons, and how Mrs. Clinton kept a sense of down-home Southern sensibility even in the fancy finery of the executive mansion's dining room:
Walter Scheib thought he had created a masterpiece when he crafted a sophisticated Thanksgiving menu with dozens of items to show first lady Hillary Clinton. She reviewed it approvingly, but then looked up and asked, “Where’s the white-bread stuffing?” Scheib recalls.
He stammered something about all the lovely stuffings he planned: oyster, corn bread.
“All that’s fine,” Scheib recalls her responding. “But if next year, there’s no Pepperidge Farm white-bread stuffing, you’re fired.” She said it with a smile. But Scheib couldn’t help but think she was only half joking.
The day after the Clintons’ first Thanksgiving, Scheib heard from the first lady. “Where is the leftover turkey and cranberry sauce?” she asked.
The first family eating leftovers? No way, he thought. He had already served the leftovers to White House staffers.
“We ended up creating leftovers out of fresh stuff,” he says.
Tradition was served.
Yeah, that sounds a little hard to swallow, especially given how the Clintons abandoned Bill's home state to be a media-adored power couple in suburban New York.
As for the Reagans, Roig-Franzia did paint a warm picture of the Gipper's Thanksgiving traditions, although he did include a gentle ribbing of Nancy Reagan from stepson Michael:
The Reagans’ meal was always prepared by Ann Allman, the family’s longtime California housekeeper and cook, rather than the White house chefs or — certainly not — the first lady. “Nancy didn’t cook,” Michael Reagan says. “Nancy? We didn’t let her boil water.”