Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Presidential BBQ

I was watching a cooking show on BBQ and they quoted George Washington!  So I had to explore!  This is what started it all:
The definition of barbecue (let alone Spelling) is as problematic today as it was in the time of George Washington when he wrote in his diaries, "went in to Alexandria to a Barbecue and stayed all Night" in 1769. I found a much more enlightening quote from the first president written in a letter to Henry Bouquet in 1758 during the French and Indian war. Washington, complaining of a lack of supplies wrote, "That we have not an Oz. of Salt Provision's of any kind here, and that it is impossible to preserve the Fresh (especially as we have no Salt) by any other Means than Barbacuing it in the Ind'n manner; in doing which it looses near a half; so that a Party who receives 10 days Provision's will be obliged to live on little better than 5 days' allowance of meat."

Now, on the subject, of BBQ is also Lyndon Johnson's "state" barbecues!
In April 1961, the new vice president hosted a barbecue for West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. The American West held a romantic appeal to Europeans, and the attraction was greater to Adenauer because Hill Country had been settled by many German families. According to Hal K. Rothman, author of the book LBJ's Texas White House,
The American West and its ranching, its barbecues, beans, and chuck wagons, had a cross-cultural resonance that allowed even those raised in other parts of the world to participate in an American myth made universal by popular fiction and the movies. Foreigners could see their preconceived vision of the 'real America' in the vistas, settings, entertainment, and libations of the LBJ Ranch. For Europeans, this was all especially poignant; it resonated with the myths they held about the American West. Adenauer's visit began a universalization of the ranch, its transformation from a place of continental iconography to one of international symbolic meaning.'
This article discusses a lot of Johnson's BBQs, including this, his largest:
One of the largest barbecues was on April 1, 1967, with 35 Latin American ambassadors and their wives. There was a huge re-enactment of the settling of Texas by Native Americans, followed by Spaniards, then Anglo cowboys, complete with buckboards and cattle. Johnson spoke briefly of his War on Hunger and he pledged three million tons of food grain to India and another $25 million in food for distribution by CARE. After all the guests left, he demonstrated his penchant for micromanagement by telling Social Secretary Bess Abell that "The food needed to be hotter in the future." It is unclear if he meant chili pepper or thermal heat. But in the next few moments he demonstrated his leadership. When told that Congressman Gonzales was unhappy because so many Republicans had been invited to the barbecue, Johnson replied that he was "President of all the people, Republicans and Democrats."

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