Plain Food & High Thinking:
An Anecdotal History of White House Entertaining 1901–1953

Plain Food and High Thinking
An overview of food and entertaining in the White House, 1901–1953. Authored by Patricia B. Mitchell. Edited by Sarah E. Mitchell. Foreword by former White House chef Martin C.J. Mongiello. Published 2005. 25 recipes, 141 research notes, 37 pages. 5.5 x 8.5 inches. Soft cover, saddle-stitched. ISBN-10: 1-929384-03-3. ISBN-13: 978-1-929384-03-7.

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About the Book

Writer Gilson Willets in 1908 used the words “plain food and high thinking” to describe the philosophy of Theodore Roosevelt. Patricia B. Mitchell chose his phrase to be the title of her book about White House entertaining under the eight administrations between 1901 and 1953. — Other administrations are covered in companion White House books.

Gossipy stories, quirky food preferences, anecdotes, and recipes enliven the text of Plain Food & High Thinking. Quotations such as FDR's comment about “chicken six times in a single week” reveal that affairs of the plate were sometimes as much a concern, at least momentarily, as affairs of state.

In a theme repeating itself throughout White House history, Calvin Coolidge revealed his envy of his servants' food — specifically, their big griddle cakes in contrast to his dainty ones.

The copious endnotes in Plain Food & High Thinking are useful to scholars and anyone interested in additional worthwhile reading and research.

Featured in the book are:

See also our:

All three of the above books are compiled in one Bookshelf Edition, Presidential Flavors: White House Food and Entertaining 1800–1953.