By Adam Sims

The US Presidents have expressed their opinions on what foods they like… and dislike. President George H.W. Bush hates broccoli. Bill Clinton loves fries.  I figured that as a foodie, I’d take some of the meals I had while traveling with the Fleischaker/Greene Scholars in Washington, D.C., and see if presidents have enjoyed them, too — and if the press has noticed.

On Thursday, I went to Shake Shack for dinner, and I tried a Washington Monu-Mint for dessert, which had chocolate custard, minted marshmallow sauce, and chocolate truffle cookie dough.

Photo by Adam Sims

It’s no doubt presidents have had their history with frozen desserts, going as far back as George Washington, who spent $200 on ice cream in a day. That’s around $5,000 today!  Bill Clinton, who has been a vegan in recent years, enjoys a frozen sorbet.

Meanwhile, Trump loves ice cream so much that he needs at least two scoops of ice cream to keep him going, while everyone else got one.

This story depicted Trump as greedy and caring more about himself than others, who only got one scoop of ice cream. The comments below the video are filled with people mocking CNN’s coverage of what they see as an irrelevant story, cementing their idea that CNN is fake news. However, Trump isn’t the only president to be criticized in the media for appearing to be above everyone else, as we’re about to see.

The bar at Old Ebbitt Grill. Photo by Adam Sims.

On Friday for lunch, we ate at Old Ebbitt Grill, said to be the oldest saloon in Washington. Founded in 1856, it has a rich history. The website even claims that various presidents have visited. “Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding supposedly refreshed themselves at its stand-around bar,” the website says.

I ordered the Oktoberfest platter, which had pork belly, bratwurst, back ribs, beer-braised sauerkraut, red bliss potatoes, and house mustard.

The Oktoberfest platter at Old Ebbitt Grill. Photo by Adam Sims.

As a meat lover, this meal was a treat. Everything was cooked well, and what made the meal even better was its house mustard. Now, I’m not much of a mustard guy, but the mustard was just right. Not too strong, but still packed with flavor. I imagine that if I was more of a mustard enthusiast, I’d be particular with my choice of this yellow condiment. President Barack Obama felt the same way, and he was criticized for it. In May 2009, early into his first term, Obama was criticized by right wing talking heads for wanting Dijon mustard on his burger during a visit to a burger restaurant.

Why did they care that Obama wanted mustard on a burger? To them, it was pretentious. Fox News’s Sean Hannity said Obama “watched a little bit too much television as a kid” before playing a mustard commercial depicting pretentious aristocrats wanting mustard on a burger.

 

Later, we had our dinner at Comet Ping Pong, the hipstery pizza place that was the center of the Pizzagate fake news controversy.  But we’re not here to talk about that, but instead I want to talk about the food and drink there.

Comet Ping-Pong in DC. Photo by Adam Sims.

I got a Cheesus Christ, topped with various cheeses, and added some pepperoni to it.

The Cheesus Christ pizza at Comet Ping-Pong. Photo by Adam Sims.

It was excellent. As for presidential pizza, there’s no doubt that there’s an interesting history. President George W. Bush likes a unique cheeseburger pizza, which you can make.  In a Fox News article, Trump apparently only eats the toppings and doesn’t eat the dough, with the article proclaiming that this habit isn’t very New York of him. However, he does seem to like stuffed crust pizza.

 

 

To wash down the pizza, I had myself a glass of DC Brau Pilsner, a pale lager from DC itself. I’m not a beer drinker, but it was just right for me.

The DC Brau Pilsner at Comet Ping-Pong. Photo by Adam Sims.

There’s no doubt that many of our presidents have unwound with a glass of beer after a hard day of leading the free world. Ronald Reagan loved the Irish pub scene, and there’s even a pub in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

Obama loves beer as well. Early on in his first term, he had a “beer summit” meeting with Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Officer James Crowley. Crowley, who is white, arrested Gates, who is African-American, as a suspect in a burglary, when he was actually at his own house, and this caused a controversy over racial profiling. The charges were dropped, and Obama invited them both for a beer. There was a little controversy over this, and not for the reasons you may think.

Obama’s choice of beer was Bud Light. As you probably know, Bud Light is a cheap beer and not exactly the beer a person would choose if they had money. Fox News ran a story about beer enthusiasts not being happy with his choice of beer:

“Tom Dalldorf, publisher of Celebrator Beer News, an online magazine based in California, suggested Obama’s choice may have been influenced by young White House staff members searching for the most neutral, least offensive beer.”

This happened shortly after the mustard controversy. In other words, Fox News commentated about Obama’s choice of condiments being too pretentious, and then wrote a story about his choice of drink being too dull. What’s a President supposed to do?

On Friday night, I explored Off the Record, a bar tucked away in the Hay Adams hotel, which is a skip away from The White House. While I didn’t order anything from there, I did take a look at their menu to see what presidential themed drinks they had to offer.

Off the Record Bar. Photo by Adam Sims.

Sure enough, they had lots of humorous drinks named after the current administration, including a mocktail (non-alcoholic) called Sweet Melania and a cocktail called Trumpy Sour. I didn’t try any of them myself because they are a bit pricey at $16 to $19 per drink.

Would Trump like the Trumpy Sour? Maybe not. Trump is a teetotaler, or someone who doesn’t drink alcohol. This may be surprising, as we picture a billionaire such as Trump sipping on some thousand-dollar champagne, but Trump has claimed to abstain from alcohol due to his brother, Fred Jr., passing away from complications from alcoholism. Knowing this, the press is going to speak up if they see Trump breaking his sobriety.
At a UN reception this September, Trump appeared to do just that. He took a few sips of a drink out of a wine glass. It’s unknown if he really did drink wine, but it sent the press speculating. Is Trump secretly a drinker? Did he have a nonalcoholic beverage in the glass? Is his teetotalism flexible, where he’ll take a few sips at a social event? The only one who knows for sure is Trump himself.

 

On Saturday night, I explored Chinatown and had some crispy chicken with Sichuan sauce. It was great for a Chinese-American dish. I think we all know, as we go to these Chinese places, that we’re usually not eating authentic Chinese food. But the one who loved real Chinese was President Richard Nixon.

Afterwards, I went to Crimson, a bar that extends to a rooftop with a seating area that allows you to view the DC skyline. However, I stayed on the first floor and got myself a Tennessee transplant, a milkshake with peanut butter, chocolate, and Jack Daniels. The peanut butter and whiskey made for a unique clash, and I downed it quite fast. President Martin Van Buren may have liked this. He was a whiskey drinker who became known as the “Blue Whiskey Van.”

Obama seems to have an interest in whiskey, too.

 

Our planned final meal in DC was Teddy and the Bully Bar, themed around, you guessed it, Teddy Roosevelt. It was a place of personality, with a DJ, Teddy decor and good food. I ordered myself a biscuit and chicken gravy meal that included honey.

Photo by Adam Sims

While you can’t beat the South’s gravy, it was pretty good.

While I’m not sure which presidents like this delicacy, President George W. Bush did pardon two turkeys named Biscuits and Gravy in 2004. The article mentioned then goes on with how the turkeys are raised, and you feel bad for these delicious birds.

For the drink, I had a Martha Roosevelt, made from such ingredients as gin and edible flower. It was quite a strong drink.

I think Teddy would have been honored by this drink being named after his mother.

This isn’t the end of my foodie adventure. We missed our flight and were treated to a meal at Zona Cocina in the BWI airport.

The burrito was good, but one half sadly had less meat than the other.

With that said, do presidents like Americanized burritos? Certainly. Obama loves Chipotle, but maybe a bit too much.

In 2014, Obama visited Chipotle and reached over the sneeze glass, almost touching the food, and this sparked a Twitter firestorm, with people joking that he should be impeached.

In 2015, Hillary Clinton visited Chipotle, and the coverage of it by the press was how she was unrecognized.

So the moral of the story? If you’re a president or a presidential candidate and you want Chipotle, don’t be too enthusiastic to be there, but don’t be unrecognizable either.

And with that, this has been my food journey in DC. Hope you all came out learning something and feeling hungry.