Delicacies in Proportion:
An Anecdotal History of White House Entertaining 1850–1901

Delicacies in Proportion

An overview of food and entertaining in the White House, 1850–1901. Authored by Patricia B. Mitchell. Edited by Sarah E. Mitchell. Foreword by former White House chef Martin C.J. Mongiello. Published 2004. 17 recipes, 142 research notes, 36 pages. 5.5 x 8.5 inches. Soft cover, saddle-stitched. ISBN-10: 1-929384-02-5. ISBN-13: 978-1-929384-02-0.

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About the Book

“[D]elicacies in proportion” were the words used by Washington correspondent and writer Ben Perley Poore to complete a list of the foods served at a presidential inaugural ball supper in 1881. Delicacies in Proportion is also the title of a book by Patricia B. Mitchell about White House entertaining under the twelve administrations between 1850 and 1901. — Other administrations are covered in companion White House books.

Smile-producing stories, presidential food preferences, and evocative descriptions make Delicacies in Proportion a pleasure to read. Quotations add to the charm of the book. For example, the remark, “Why, I never get tired of having a good time” shows the attitude that enabled Lucy Hayes to adapt well to the social obligations which she was expected to carry out.

The “humanness” of President Cleveland is revealed in a dialogue involving his instructions to exchange his fancy dinner for the servants' bill of fare. (He wasn't trying to be noble — he preferred what they were having.)

The copious endnotes in Delicacies in Proportion are useful to scholars and anyone interested in additional worthwhile reading and research.

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Note: This book is compiled with two others into one Bookshelf Edition, Presidential Flavors: White House Food and Entertaining 1800–1953.

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