Hoecakes were among George Washington’s favorite foods, according to family members and visitors alike. He always ate them for breakfast, slathered in butter and honey and accompanied by hot tea—a “moderate breakfast” he enjoyed daily. Nelly Custis Lewis described her method for preparing yeast-risen hoecakes in a letter to her close friend Elizabeth Bordley Gibson written many years after Washington’s death.
“Make it by candlelight and let it sit until the next morning,” she wrote. She described the baking method as follows: “Place one teaspoon at a time on a hoe or griddle (as we say in the South). The griddle must be rubbed with a piece of beef suet when one side is done and flipped.” This recipe is a modern adaptation of the original from the 18th century.
It was developed for the book Dining with the Washingtons by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump. AVAILABLE FROM RETAILERS
What foods did George Washington consume?
By Chef Walter Staib, host of A Taste of History on PBS and owner of City Tavern This year for President’s Day, I am reflecting on our nation’s first five presidents. They established the executive branch of government and fashioned the presidency. It required great courage to assume a position that had never been held before, and each of the first five men left a lasting impression on us.
- I believe that people will understand each other much better if they begin to view each other as fellow human beings as opposed to figures of authority.
- We all gather around the table with family and friends, as did the nation’s founding fathers.
- On my television show, A Taste of History, I prepare the founding fathers’ favorite dishes.
It has been an honor to provide a closer look at the presidents’ homes. George Washington would have caught sturgeon in the Potomac River close to his Mount Vernon estate. Recreating these great people’s recipes not only allows us to eat as they did, but also provides insight into their preferences and personalities.
- George Washington was one of the few founding fathers who successfully managed an estate financially.
- He was a general, diplomat, farmer, and distiller, among other occupations.
- From porter made on the battlefield to cherries grown in his Mount Vernon orchards, he savored the diverse flavors of his many careers.
As one of the wealthiest landowners in Virginia and the country, he had access to exquisite delicacies, but his health prevented him from partaking in some of them. George Washington, as many people are aware, wore dentures and preferred to eat soft foods, such as cornmeal “hoecakes,” puddings, and soups.
- John Adams favored the simpler cuisine of the New England farmer.
- Even while establishing our nation in Philadelphia, he preferred a simple boiled dinner and hard cider.
- Abigail remained on the farm for the majority of John Adams’ absence, managing the children and the crops.
- This New England harvest was used to make apple pandowdy and other sweets.
This ham and oyster dish was served throughout the state of Virginia. Oysters travel exceptionally well, particularly during cooler months. Thomas Jefferson is my favorite president because he was the first American epicure. To this day, he continues to inspire me with his vast curiosity of cuisine and how it led to incredible dinners at the White House and Monticello! He ensured that his cooks were trained in French techniques and capable of preparing technically challenging dishes, including French sauces, creamy entrees, crème brulee, and ice cream.
- Jefferson introduced numerous new edible crops to the United States, including tomatoes, rice, soybeans, and a tofu recipe! Dolley Madison, the wife of James Madison, is perhaps most famous for her contributions to the culinary world.
- She hosted parties in Washington and at their home, Montpelier, with lavish food, wine, and beverage displays.
James was a reserved politician who meticulously studied the law and contributed significantly to the establishment of the United States, but less is known about his dining preferences. James may have been overshadowed by his wife’s notes on cooking and hosting parties, but I prefer to believe that she tailored them to his preferences.
They dined on southern classics such as Hoppin’ John, Virginia Ham, and oysters from the Potomac River, as well as more refined and international fare such as vol au vent pastries and veal fricassee. Lake perch was a prevalent species in the lakes close to James Monroe’s residence. James Monroe, another Virginian, favored simpler cuisine and frequently ate what was grown on his neighboring plantation.
His residence was considerably smaller than Montpelier and Monticello. Madison developed a taste for sophisticated cuisine while serving as a diplomat abroad, but his family was frequently on the verge of bankruptcy. He began the Presidential china tradition by ordering it on the government’s dime.
Food Culture In their more than forty years at Mount Vernon, George and Martha Washington entertained tens of thousands of guests. The majority of their guests stayed for meals, appreciating the Washingtons’ renowned hospitality and the abundance of food they offered.
- Several sources provide information about meals at Mount Vernon, including George Washington’s preferred foods and beverages.
- George Washington frequently referred to his residence as a “well-stocked tavern.” When the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association assumed operations in 1853, they continued this tradition.
The Washingtons’ guests were served by a group of enslaved cooks, butlers, and waiters. Washington favored his pancakes to be “swimming in butter and honey.” One guest hypothesized that the honey and butter used to soften the hoecakes made it easier for Washington to chew his breakfast.
What is the president’s preferred meal?
The favorite foods of US presidents are bacon, pancakes, and steak.