Presidents & Food: Grover Cleveland


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In honor of Presidents' Day, Gut Check celebrates great moments in presidential food history.

The only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, Grover Cleveland was a man who loved food -- though not, as it happens, especially fancy food. In his biography Grover Cleveland, Henry F. Graff relates the following:
The meals prepared for him were elaborate, although unless he was entertaining guests no wine was served. Sometimes the fare struck him as too fancy. He did not enjoy the offerings of the French chef he had inherited from the urbane Chester Arthur. Cleveland would write to Bissell: "I must go to dinner, but I wish it was to eat pickled herring, Swiss cheese and a chop at Louis' instead of the French stuff I shall find." Once, as his supper was being presented, he smelled the appetizing aroma of corned beef and cabbage coming from the servants' quarters. To the dismay of the chef, he said to Sinclair, "Well, William, take this dinner down to the servants and bring their dinner to me." He declared it the best food he had had for months.
Cleveland's love of food had a price. From the online magazine of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston:
Grover Cleveland liked many things - including beer, good food and cigars. His fondness for them resulted in gout, obesity and oral cancer.

Although overweight and suffering from gout in his right foot, Cleveland remained active and in relatively good health until 1893. At age 56, he complained to his doctor of pain in the left side of the roof of his mouth, where he chewed his cigars before inhaling the smoke as deeply as his lungs could hold.

Soon diagnosed with cancer, Cleveland and his doctors hid the news from the public. A secret operation to remove the cancer took place aboard Cleveland's yacht while anchored in Long Island Sound on July 1.


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