The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Community News Network

November 14, 2012

At a White House Thanksgiving, tradition is a presidential thing

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Yet this is also a family not afraid of the occasional indulgence. Remember those presidential burger runs to Five Guys and Ray's Hell Burger? Their Thanksgiving menu takes that tendency into account during the dessert course with not one or two, but six pies. Huckleberry? Okay, not so traditional. But each Thanksgiving, those helpful, anonymous White House sources remind us that the president's favorite is the most traditional of all: pumpkin.

The details of the Obamas' private family gathering are treated with a delicacy approaching the handling of national security secrets. One drizzles out, though. William Yosses, the White House executive pastry chef, confides that the president's favored pie is jazzed up by some acorn squash to give it a dash of color and complexity — a far cry from the canned pumpkin pie that Yosses' mother made when he was a child. Last year, Yosses used a sugar pumpkin, a variety that is smaller and has a firmer flesh than the bulky varieties most often turned into Halloween jack-o-lanterns.

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.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014