Donald Trump’s presidency will be fuelled by junk food

As he showed on the campaign trail, the president-elect favours KFC over haute cuisine

Food

16 Nov 2016

Was it the bucket wot won it? In August, on the campaign trail, Donald Trump tweeted a photograph from his private jet (see below). It showed him tucking into a KFC $20 Fill-Up bucket. That’s eight pieces of Extra Crispy chicken, a large pot of coleslaw, four biscuits (what we would call buttermilk scones), two helpings of mashed potatoes and a tub of gravy.

Who could blame the man for being hungry? He’d been in Ohio that afternoon, Pennsylvania that evening, and was due in Virginia the following morning. The photograph was re-tweeted 15,760 times and liked 62,822 times. This is America where 68.8 per cent of adults are overweight or obese, 11 per cent of the average American’s diet is fast food, and where sugar-sweetened drinks are the biggest single source of dietary calories.

It’s said that elections are won by the candidate voters would most like to have a beer with. Trump doesn’t drink alcohol – or tea, or coffee – but he was the candidate with a fried-chicken bucket deep enough to share with 30 states. As he didn’t quite say: Let’s Make America Gravy Again! So is it all over for Michelle Obama’s 1,100 sq ft White House vegetable garden? What future for kale in the post-truth, post-Barack world?

As the Trumps prepare to divide their time between New York and Washington, how will the White House kitchen prepare for their arrival? Cristeta Pasia Comerford has been the White House’s executive chef since 2005. She is both the first woman and the first chef of Asian descent – she was born in Manila – to hold the role. Laura Bush praised the chef’s versatility: Comerford was as adept at State Banquets as at the ‘chicken fried steaks’ favoured by George W Bush. She may now have to try her hand at Fish Finger Sandwiches – Trump’s breakfast of choice from the McDonald’s menu.

On the campaign trail in New Hampshire, Trump rallied his strength with deep-fried balls of mac-and-cheese, cheeseburgers and Diet Cokes. He likes cherry and vanilla ice cream and all-American Oreo cookies. It’ll be a change from Obama who kept up his energy during late nights in the Treaty Room with seven lightly-salted almonds. Sam Kass, the Obama’s private chef, told the New York Times: ‘Michelle and I would always joke: Not six. Not eight. Always seven almonds.’ How they must have laughed. Out go the nuts, in come quarter pounders, Filet-o-Fish, Trump Steaks and meat loaf. When the FT interviewed Trump in 2013, he had a beef sandwich, potatoes and Diet Coke.

First Lady Melania Trump is more sophisticated in her tastes. While she won’t keep up Michelle’s #LetsMove campaign to encourage young Americans to eat well and exercise – she’ll tackle online bullying instead – she is herself a healthy eater. Earlier this year she told GQ that she eats seven pieces of fruit a day. She eats at the Cipriani restaurant in Manhattan – Bellini cocktails, veal Milanese, cheesecakes – and shops at Whole Foods. When she competed against Bill Clinton in the traditional ‘First Lady Cookie Contest’ she pitted her Star Cookies against Bill’s Chocolate Chips. Bill won. The Washington Post thought the sour cream in Melania’s recipe gave the cookies an ‘Eastern European’ flavour.

Will we see dishes from Melania’s native Slovenia on White House menus? Eastern European food has been having a moment following the success of Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine and Beyond by Olia Hercules and Polska: New Polish Cooking by Zuza Zak. Melania might consider inviting Ana Roš, owner and chef at Hiša Franko in Kobarid, Slovenia, to Washington for a masterclass in pršut (cured ham), žlikrofi (pork ravioli), polnjeni vampi (stuffed tripe), and prekmurska gibanica – a shortbread-and-strudel layer cake with poppy seeds, sweet ricotta, walnuts, apples and cream. Melania could make fusion Slovenian-American cuisine the next foodie thing. All washed down with Diet Coke, of course.


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