Ross, Tami and Patti B Geil, F. L Gillette, and Hugo Ziemann. White House Cookbook, Revised and Updated Centennial Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006. ISBN 978-0471347521 336 pp. $18.95
I used to bring my (ex)hubby t-shirts from my travels, but often they didn’t fit right–he’s too muscled for a large, but an extra-large swims on him. Then I started collecting shot glasses from my destinations, but we are running out room. He really doesn’t need/want chotchkies. So, I’ve started bringing him home cookbooks as souvenirs.
I got the White House Cookbook on one of my last trips to DC, and have paged through it once or twice. This weekend we moved all the cookbooks to a new bookcase that is upstairs, near the kitchen, instead of on the 2nd floor landing, and I paged through this one again while eating my tea & toast birthday breakfast.
I love food, menus, etiquette, history of food, and this revised & expanded edition nicely covers all of the above, with Hilary’s chocolate chip cookie recipe (she uses shortening), an essay on table manners fit for a state dinner, and a diagram of where to play each wineglass from sherry to burgandy (hint: sort of a cross shape).
The cookbook is traditionally arranged from beverages to desserts, with no cross referencing. Several menu examples from actual White House events are included. The modern recipes are much more specific in amounts and instructions. Each chapter is prefaced with sketched portraits of various first ladies; there are no other pictures. All modern recipes and most classic ones contain complete nutritional information, including starch, fat and protein exchanges.
There is actually a disclaimer at the beginning, in case thinking about healthy eating changes again, and the book puts this revision into context with an explanation of the evolution from pioneer diets and making everything from scratch to modern families and convenience foods. Many unique and original recipes have an updated “healthier” version that substitutes butter with low fat margarine and “Butter Buds” and whole eggs with “Egg substitute.” I’m sorry–I know I’m fat, but you know what, I’d SO much rather eat food with real eggs and butter than ingest chemical crap. If I make anything from this book, it will be using the original recipes. Except, maybe, for the squirrel pie from Cleveland era: no modern day revision on this classic, which is just as well, by me.