When Franklin Roosevelt was elected president, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt hired Henrietta Nesbitt to be the White House's housekeeper and head chef. While Nesbitt successfully transformed the old, outdated kitchen into a modern and more efficient place to prepare meals, not many people would say that the new kitchen was put to good use. Nesbitt's menus were notoriously unappealing.Continue Reading
Eleanor felt a sense of duty to serve affordable and nutritious food as an example for the American people, which is why Nesbitt used cheap cuts of meat and other inexpensive ingredients when cooking. As a result, President Roosevelt was almost never served the dishes he requested. At one point in his presidency, Nesbitt had cooked sweetbreads (which are the thymus and pancreas glands from farm animals) so many times that Roosevelt wrote a request to Eleanor for the menu to change.
Despite their good intentions, menus created by the first lady and Nesbitt were famously unpopular, both in terms of selection and presentation. There was even a running joke among the media that people should eat beforehand when invited to dinner at the White House.Learn more about US History