America’s Foodie Founding Fathers: What Our First Leaders Ate

Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Having ice cream at your Fourth of July bash? Or are you more inclined to pop open a beer? Either choice will be true to the roots of our country, and were favorites with the Founding Fathers. In between penning the Declaration of Independence, leading the Continental Army, and serving in Congress — in other words, founding the country — America’s first leaders had to find time to eat. Exploring the history that binds the founding fathers to food leads to discovering the foodie past of some of most prominent men in early America, and the impact food and drink had on crafting their public image.

With recipes for haricot verts, ice cream, as well as meringues and macarons among his papers, Thomas Jefferson is one of the top foodies of the Founding Fathers. With his usual flair for all things French, Jefferson wasn’t exclusively influenced by Francophile feelings. Also nestled in his papers is evidence that Jefferson had “mould for making macaroni,” picked up by Jefferson’s secretary William Short in Naples, Italy. The Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia‘s page on the machine, found on Monticello’s website, details that Jefferson also had notes about pasta making in Naples, and his own recipe for macaroni.

Not everyone who visited Jefferson’s White House enjoyed the pasta machine’s creations. “Dinner not as elegant as when we dined before,” Reverend Cutler recorded in his journal. “[Among other dishes] a pie called macaroni, which appeared to be a rich crust filled with the strillions of onions, or shallots, which I took it to be, tasted very strong, and not agreeable.”