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AMERICAN PRESIDENTS: FAVORITE FOOD

Chill Bill: The favorite foods (and transformation) of our 42nd President

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Photo: Official White House portrait of Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton, Pre-Surgery

In the eight years William Jefferson Clinton served in the Oval Office, regardless of how Americans felt about his political agenda and personal indiscretions, it was difficult for the collective mass of comedians and viewers alike to not enjoy a good laugh at his expense. The clip above, from a 1992 episode of Saturday Night Live, was part of pre-election and pre-inauguration skits that would set the stage for many hilarious impersonations of President Clinton (1992 - 2000) by comedian-actor Phil Hartman, until Hartman's tragic death in 1998.

As an eater, Bill Clinton once represented the relationship many Americans have with junk food. Past tense is intentional here given the quadruple bypass the former Arkansas governor had in 2004. A turning point and wake-up call for Clinton after he suffered chest pains and shortness of breath. Not surprising, his heart disease was and continues to be attributed to his former eating habits, even though Clinton had lost weight while on the South Beach diet, which he started after leaving office.

Before Clinton's inauguration, soon-to-be First Lady Hillary told Marion Burros of The New York Times, "The good news is, my husband loves to eat and enjoys it. The bad news is, he loves to eat, even when things are not always right for him." This Dec. 23, 1992 article—appropriately titled "Bill Clinton and Food: Jack Sprat He's Not," goes on to list the Southern politician's favorite restaurants and dishes: "From Sims Bar-B-Q to Juanita's, from Doe's Eat Place to Hungry's Cafe, President-elect Clinton prefers the stuff with fat in it: jalapeño cheeseburgers, chicken enchiladas, barbecue, cinnamon rolls and pies. But no chocolate-chip cookies."

Clinton's reputation for gorging on fatty, high-calorie dishes would prompt a part-satire, part-cookbook by V. Jaime Hamlin Schilcher entitled, "In the Kitchen with Bill: 50 Recipes for Chowing Down" (Andrews McMeel Publishing 1996.) The recipes, which are literally not for the faint-hearted, include "Slick Willie's Wishbone Tenders" and "Hillary's Hush Puppies with Something Fishy." Whether or not Clinton knows this book exists, he has taken comedic and satirical hits, along with so much other censure and critcism (deserved or not), in stride. No wonder he has earned the Astute-given nickname "Chill Bill."

White House Chef Walter Scheib, who served President Clinton throughout his eight years in office and President George W. Bush during his first term, confirmed to Jon Stewart in a 2007 interview that Clinton loved beef, ribs and Southwestern cusine. Scheib has been in the news a lot since leaving the executive kitchen, primarily for the book he co-authored with Andrew Friedman, "White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen" (Wiley 2007). In his personal account, Scheib talks about what it was like to cook for and serve the Clintons and George and Laura Bush.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Walter Scheib Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
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The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Walter Scheib Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Bill Clinton, After Bypass Surgery

Fortunate to have made it through his bypass surgery and to have lived at all given the plaque discovered in his arteries, Bill Clinton has not only become a healthier eater but an evangelist for nutrition among our nation's youth. In May 2005, Clinton joined with the American Heart Association to form the Alliance for Healthier Generation. As part of this effort, in August 2009, Clinton joined Clyde Yancy, M.D., president of the American Heart Association and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), at the Fourth Annual Healthy Schools Program Forum in New York to honor 114 U.S. schools that have encouraged healthy eating among their students and staff.

Clinton has also appeared several times on the Rachael Ray Show as a supporter of Rachael's Yum-O organization, which helps feeds the hungry, educates families about healthy eating and offers scholarships to aspiring culinary students. According to this article by C0nnie Bennett at Wellsphere, Clinton and Ray also work together to combat child obesity by encouraging nutritious foods that are "affordable and delicious."

So what might President Clinton eat these days? In Mamma's Kitchen (dot com) published this article with a catering menu, prepared by Lisa Teiger and Andrew Crossan, co-owners of Creative CuisinEtc. Teiger and Crossan apparently rose to the challenge of creating appetizing but healthy cuisine. Their spa menu featured global-fusion cuisine of gourmet vegetable and seafood dishes.

 

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