At a White House Thanksgiving, tradition is a presidential thing
Traditional. Traditional! TRADITIONAL!!
Oh how many times Cristeta Comerford hears that word around this time of year. So many times that the White House executive chef breaks into song to explain — ever so briefly, ever so cautiously.
It’s a comforting notion, our president liking best what we like best on a national holiday that officially dates back to the “day of Thanksgiving” declared by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. But it lacks the flair of, say, George W. Bush, who sometimes sat down on Thanksgiving Day to an out-of-context Morelia-style gazpacho, or William Howard Taft, the portly 27th president with the bushy mustache and the adventurous palate.
Taft’s Thanksgiving turkeys competed for attention on his holiday tables with chubby Georgia possums, each with a potato stuffed in its mouth. Taft was a Cincinnatian by birth but a Southerner in his tastes, the newspaper accounts of the day noted. His Thanksgiving meal in 1910, thusly, was prepared by three cooks, “all Negro women, the very best of southern culinary artists,” the Detroit Free-Press observed. Sadly, the names of these artistes do not appear, this being long before the era of White House chefs appearing on “Iron Chef America” and becoming nationally recognized advocates for healthful cuisine....
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