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ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY: His Favorite Foods


[1] Lincoln would often dine on an apple, nuts and cheese (photo © U.S. Apples).


[2] An apple, cheese and nuts remain a healthy snack—or meal—today (photo © Paul Gaudriault | Unsplash).


[3] Lincoln’s favorite beverage: water (photo © Jana Sabeth | Pexels).

 

Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. He was born on February 12, 1809 on the Kentucky frontier.

To celebrate, we present for your consideration an “Abraham Lingon” sandwich: peanut butter and lingonberry jam on whole wheat or pumpernickel bread, with a pretzel log frontier table.

Peanut butter wasn’t developed until 1880 (see the history of peanut butter), so Honest Abe never had the pleasure.

Add to that the indignity of having your birthday eliminated as a holiday! Until 1971, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was a state holiday, celebrated in many states as a bank, government and school holiday (not to mention the retail sales specials). George Washington had a separate holiday on his birthday, February 22nd.

For more than 100 years, many Americans truly celebrated—not just to honor these two great presidents, but for the glory of having two days off in consecutive weeks.

Are you old enough to remember that Lincoln’s birthday was a school and bank holiday?
 
 
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY HOLIDAY

The holiday was eliminated to give federal employees (and afterwards, many other folks) a perk.

In 1971, both presidential holidays were shifted to the third Monday in February and combined as Presidents Day, to allow federal employees a three-day weekend. The private sector followed. Adieu, Lincoln’s Birthday; and yours too, George Washington.

So now what can Lincoln admirers do to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday? Thanks to Steven Spielberg, we can watch the DVD of Lincoln every year and reflect on the political process…while enjoying an Abraham Lingon sandwich and a glass of milk.

Take two slices of whole wheat or pumpernickel bread (we substituted raisin bread), spread with peanut butter and lingonberry jam* or preserves, and enjoy!

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*Lingonberries are plentiful in Sweden, where the jam is used on bread, with mashed potatoes, oatmeal, pancakes, potato cakes, and as a relish with meat dishes such as beef stew, liver and meatballs, beef stew or liver.
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WHAT DID LINCOLN REALLY LIKE TO EAT?

Abraham Lincoln’s father, Thomas, was an illiterate farmer. Meals in the family’s one-room cabin comprised simple farm fare. Thus, Lincoln was not bred to be a connoisseur of fine food.

  • His colleagues on the law circuit noted his indifference to the boardinghouse fare.
  • As president, focused on work, he hardly remembered to eat. Often, his sustenance was a nibble of apples, nuts, cheese and crackers.
  • Chicken fricassee with biscuits and oyster stew were favorites when he took the time to for a formal meal.
  • Lincoln’s favorite beverage was water. He didn’t drink alcohol and it was seldom served at the White House. He did enjoy coffee, perhaps for the energy as much as the flavor.
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    The historical record gives these perspectives:

    FoodTimeline.org offers this reference, “Fast Gourmet: Honest Abe’s favorite Food,” written by Poppy Cannon in the Chicago Daily Defender published February 8, 1968.

    “Judging from menus of the state balls and banquets given at the White House during Lincoln’s Administration—some of the most elaborate in our history—one might conclude that Honest Abe was a gourmet to end all gourmets. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth….Certain observers of the times…said flatly that Lincoln was almost entirely indifferent to food, ‘except that he liked apples and hot coffee.’ The President’s bodyguard wrote, however, ‘Mr. Lincoln was a hearty eater. He never lost his tastes for things that a growing farmer’s boy would like. He was particularly fond of bacon.’

    Ms. Cannon continues:

    “Probably like most of our strongest presidents (excepting Jefferson [a noted gourmet—ed.]), Lincoln relied on food to feed the furnace. Undoubtedly he ate well when served a tasty meal but was usually so preoccupied that he gave little thought to food. One thing seems certain: he was a gentle man at the table and uncritical. His stepmother said, ‘He ate what was before him, making no complaint.’ A companion of his lawyer days, Leonard Sweet, wrote, ’I never in the 10 years of circuit life I knew him, heard him complain of a hard bed or a bad meal of victuals.’ ”

    According to TheQuestingFeast.com:

    “President Lincoln did have two favorite dishes, chicken fricassee with biscuits and oyster stew. Actually, he loved oysters just about any way they were served. His dessert tastes were simple as well, with apple pie being a favorite. He seldom drank alcohol of any sort. Water was his favorite beverage. On one occasion, a hamper of choice imported wines was sent to Mrs. Lincoln for use at White House functions. She sent it on to a military hospital saying, “I never use any and Mr. Lincoln never touches any.” Alcoholic beverages were seldom served at White House entertainments.

    So don’t pop open a bottle of Champagne to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday; but enjoy a homey piece of apple pie with coffee.

      




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