President 40: Ronald Reagan
January 20, 1981- January 20, 1989
This week I had intended to pay homage to Reagan’s most famous edible obsession, the Jelly Bean. I made a couple of test batches and decided my homemade variety was woefully inadequate to the handfuls of synthetic heaven we all adore. I ended up following Nancy’s lead and going healthy but I suggest popping some jelly beans throughout your cook to ease those sugar shakes. During his gubernatorial race in California, Reagan traded his pipe smoking addiction for an addiction to the bean, with licorice being the flavor of choice. His sole supplier was Goelitz Mini Gourmet Jelly Beans out of Oakland, who kept them coming through to the White House. Goelitz even put together a red, white, and blue variety pack for inauguration day in 1981 and made a candy jar with the Presidential seal for White House guests so they could get sugar high on the way home. They were his guilty pleasure, which he scarfed down while Nancy wasn’t watching and one of the many surprising eccentricities in his home life and diet.
It seems every staunchly Republican family has a child or a lab named Reagan, which is quite humorous considering the Reagans weren’t actually that cookie-cutter. President Reagan, in his former life as a Hollywood actor, was originally considered for Bogart’s lead role in Casablanca. Those acting skills came in handy when dealing with the lunacy of the Hill, and Ronald Reagan loved the limelight. He was also the first President to get a one of those pesky divorces (no judgment here). He then met Nancy, who was also working in Hollywood at the time. Nancy had dated celebrities before, including Clark Gable, and she quickly learned to love being a political wife. She took the reins on a lot of things, including what the President ate. It was a healthy high fiber diet for the day-to-day, though there was occasionally wiggle room for the President’s beloved macaroni and cheese. Fruit (and secret jelly beans) were for dessert, unless it was a holiday and her pull-apart monkey bread made the table.
Breakfast was normally cereal and fruit. Eggs were served once a week. The coffee was decaf as caffeine didn’t agree with the President. It was light lunches of soups, with Hamburger soup being the most requested, salads, and sandwiches. For dinner they occasionally enjoyed a frozen meal, or at least pretend to, to humor the manufacturers and their lobbyists. President Reagan made March 6th National Frozen Food Day and it is still being celebrated by families, every day, across the nation. The preservatives and high sodium in most of these foods pair perfectly with ketchup, which the Reagan administration tried to officially make a vegetable in their bid to rework school lunches. It makes five a day a lot easier. Some actual family dinner favorites include: Veal Scaloppini, Beef and Kidney Pie, and broiled fish with lemon butter.
The First Lady loved healthy fashionable food with that razzle dazzle. Cold soups, including gazpacho and curry soup with a dollop of chutney, made a perfect starter or lunch for her hosted events. The White House adapted this recipe from the original from the housekeeper at the Reagan’s Rancho del Cielo, north of Santa Barbara, California. Chef Henry Haller served it as starter at a luncheon for the United States delegation to the U.N. Decade for Women’s Conference. It has enough zest to avoid the feeling that you are eating pasta sauce (tip: don’t blend it to oblivion), and enough bite to feel almost full after a large bowl.
Adapted from: The White House Family Cookbook by Henry Haller
My changes are in italics
4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled
1 cup peeled, chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 garlic clove
1 cup clear vegetable stock
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried
2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
6 drops Tabasco sauce
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1 cup peeled, finely diced ripe tomato
½ cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced cucumber
½ cup finely diced green pepper
½ ripe avocado, chopped
Sesame seeds for garnish
-In a blender, combine whole tomatoes, chopped cucumbers and red and green pepper, and garlic clove with the vegetable stock. Puree until smooth.
-Add chives, parsley, basil, tarragon, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and pepper. Blend until thoroughly mixed.
-Refrigerate soup or set bowl in a pan of ice for 2 hours
- Pour soup into individual serving bowls. Top each with a sprinkling of finely diced tomato, cucumber, chopped avocado, and green pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, black pepper, and chili flakes.