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Serve Cheese to Please

FDR was born with a silver spoon but liked finger food best.

By Colleen Walsh Fong

Honest Abe grew up in a cabin on the 19th century American frontier. He was mostly self-taught and of humble means.

Our 3rd-ranking United States President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was born in a Hyde Park mansion to one of the oldest and wealthiest families in New York. He attended the finest schools of his day, including the Groton School and Harvard, where he was Editor in Chief of the Harvard Crimson Newspaper, and Columbia Law School.

Lincoln split rails competitively and built strength and stamina walking miles because his feet were the only means of transportation available to him. Roosevelt played polo, golf, lawn tennis, and sailed his own sailboat, the “New Moon” off of Campobello Island. Later, FDR served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Lincoln briefly crewed a flatboat on the Mississippi. Roosevelt collected stamps. Lincoln borrowed books.

Pretty different, right? Yet the two shared a few traits, too. Both men were influenced by strong women named Sara(h). Lincoln had an affinity for two Sarah’s: his sister and his stepmother. Roosevelt’s mother, Sara, dominated his early life. And both overcame serious adversity. Lincoln rose above a poverty-level existence, and Roosevelt battled through polio and its after effects. They had one other thing in common too—cheese.

Lincoln nibbled absent-mindedly on cheese to satisfy hunger. Roosevelt liked his cheese melted. Henrietta Nesbitt, the Roosevelt administration housekeeper, reported that gooey grilled cheese sandwiches were his favorite. Today tony restaurants have elevated grilled cheese sandwiches to gourmet status, using fancy cheeses and breads. But FDR liked his made with good old-fashioned New York cheddar and white bread.

Grilled cheese sandwiches serve as a quick way to put a protein-rich meal on the table. The Grilled Cheese Sandwich pictured here is a 5-minute meal from the Easy Weekly Meals Smart Cookbook Series. It’s a great way to eat a hot meal when on the run, and good for those observing Lenten meatless Fridays. Grilled cheese sandwiches can be baked instead of fried to reduce calories, made with gluten free breads, and tweaked with feta or other goat cheeses for those with lactose and dairy sensitivities.

Our 4th-ranking President may have originated another chi-chi food trend. Watch for his story coming soon in America’s Top-10 Presidents’ Favorite Foods.

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