Thomas Jefferson extolled the virtues of vegetable-rich diets, but many of our presidents were fonder of meats.
Our 5th and 6th ranked U.S. Presidents were worlds apart, but shared some common traits, too. 26th president and the first Roosevelt to occupy the White House, “Theodore Rex,” (as noted poet and novelist Henry James called him,) was born into a wealthy New York family. Asthma kept him home-schooled as a child. So he built physical strength hiking and working in the great outdoors. Theodore Roosevelt ultimately boxed for sport while earning a degree from Harvard. He entered politics as a Republican state assemblyman, but lived on the western frontier as a rancher in the Dakota Badlands for a time afterwards where he developed a deep respect for nature. In fact today’s U.S. Forest Service was his brainchild.
Our 33rd president, Democrat Harry S Truman, came from humbler origins. “The Man from Independence” was actually born in Lamar, Missouri to a farming family. At age 6 his family relocated to the larger city of Independence. Truman graduated from high school. Poor eyesight prevented admission to West Point, his childhood dream. So he dabbled in courses at a local commerce college and took law classes at night. But lack of funds halted his education, and he did not earn a college degree. In his first political position he worked as a page at the 1900 Democratic Convention in Kansas City.
On the surface, the two presidents couldn’t be more different. Yet they have several things in common. Both succeeded presidents who died in office. In Truman’s case he was vice president to Teddy’s 5th cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Both served in active military duty during wartime—Truman fought World War I in France, Roosevelt led the Rough Riders in Cuba during the Spanish American War. Both had “blustery” personalities, earning nicknames of “Give ‘Em Hell Harry,” and “The Lion” respectively. And both loved meat.
Teddy Roosevelt often ate it for all three meals! He enjoyed bratwurst for breakfast and turkey sandwiches with cheese for lunch. T. R. relished dinners of roast beef with mashed potatoes or game meats from hunting expeditions. But his favorite dinner meal was fried chicken smothered with gravy—one his mother had served—and he wouldn’t eat the meat dry.
Dry meat must have suited Harry Truman. He liked steaks and preferred them well done. He also loved chicken and dumplings. And, like Roosevelt, his favorite was his mother’s fried chicken.
Tip your culinary hats to these two carnivorous presidents with a modern version of fried chicken with gravy. Chicken and Waffles, found in the February section of Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go, features lightly floured and sautéed chicken cutlets smothered in a broth-based sauce, but tweaked with other ingredients to pay homage to many of our Top 10 ranked U. S. presidents. Can you guess which ones?