Lincoln 1860

Lincoln 1860

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Of Lincoln And His Favorite Meals

Since I began this blog about Abraham Lincoln 2 1/2 years ago, I've written in-depth posts about his parents and childhood, political career, presidency, speeches, and assassination. I've also written numerous book and exhibit reviews. None of this seems to matter, because most of the searches which "hit" on this blog are for one thing and one thing only: Lincoln's favorite meals!

I have to admit I'm puzzled by this. Lincoln is considered by most historians to be the greatest president we've ever had. He epitomizes the American "rags to riches" story. He led our nation through the deadliest war we've had. While he was not a great speaker, he was one of the most gifted writers of the English language ever. He redefined America and what it stands for in 271 words when he gave the Gettysburg Address.

And yet what people want to know most is what he ate for dinner. Or breakfast. Or lunch.

Why?? Does knowing this information make him seem more real to us somehow? Does it make us feel closer to him? Does it humanize a man who is surrounded by so many legends and myths? Is our national obsession with food and The Food Network to blame?

What does it matter if we know that he seldom ate more than a hardboiled egg and apple for breakfast? Or that his favorite meals tended towards wild game and chicken fricassee? Or that he didn't have much of a sweet tooth? Obviously, I'm fascinated by Abraham Lincoln and try to share this fascination with my readers. Personally, though, I couldn't care less about what the man ate. There are far too many more important things to learn about Abraham Lincoln than what he nibbled on. For those of you who do care, though, I've included a photo of the china pattern used by the Lincolns during their stay in The White House.

Sorry for the rant. It's just something which has been bothering me for a while now.


Anonymous said...

I recall during the 2009 Inauguration it was a big deal that they were serving a meal similar to the one at one of Abe's.

Everyone wants to connect with him, so this gives foodies their chance. Just like posting about his dog to give that connection to us animal lovers.

Keep up the good work.

Chris said...

I'd blame Facebook and Twitter and the narcissistic generation that uses them for caring about things like what Lincoln ate or his dog. It really annoys me when people post stuff like "what I had for dinner" on those sites, since I prefer more meaningful interaction. I don't really understand it (having grown up in the 80s and being a little older than that generation), but maybe it helps Gen Y types connect.

I certainly hope that for those people, connecting with him on that level leads to them understanding the deeper meaning of the Lincoln story. After all, what got me interested in Lincoln were the important things he did that are still relevant to today - like emancipation and the struggle for equal rights. I like to talk about, and demonstrate through my creative work, how Lincoln is relevant to today, and not focus so much about the little trivial things, since that's what matters the most to me. A little of the personal stuff is fine - but people should NOT be ignoring the more important aspects of Lincoln's legacy.

Mini Choco-Pretzels said...

"And yet what people want to know most is what he ate for dinner. Or breakfast. Or lunch."

I guess we differ over why trivial stuff such as this is interesting fodder when it comes to interesting people. I personally love stuff like that when the people are, you know, INTERESTING. Hell, if someone told me MLK hated raisins or pizza for example, I'd file it in my noggin under weird facts and useless information that just is. Anyway, I liked 'Lincoln's Table'. So shoot me. Heh.

I agree with 'Chris' that Twitter and the like is a big, fat bore and I understand his point. Still, doggerel about food strikes me as just as fun as 'Abraham Lincoln is my name, and with my pen I wrote the same, I wrote with both hast and speed and left it here for fools to read'- after wondering if he ate a PB and jelly sandwich on the way home. ;)

Geoff Elliott said...

Hi Mini,

Thanks for posting your opinion and about your interest in what Lincoln ate. I suppose Lincoln is so interesting to his "fans" that even his favorite food and his dog hold a fascination for some of them.

I don't mean to belittle you or anyone else who finds what Lincoln ate to be interesting. I have a particular fascination with the assassination and funeral train journey, which I suppose makes me morbid. Others are more interested in his presidency, his law career, and his dealings with generals.

The point is that Lincoln is interesting for a huge variety of reasons, which is why more than 16,000 books have been written about him.

Jel said...

I have to say that I love finding out the small everyday facts about the people I admire. It does humanise them and make me feel closer to them, and you definitely hit the nail on the head when you wondered if sometimes these small facts are necessary to discover in order to feel closer to a person when a person is so enveloped in legends that they appear higher than us mere mortals :)

I personally find the death and funeral of Marilyn Monroe fascinating (as well as Lincoln's), as well as a Christie's catalogue of multitudes of her personal items such as makeup and home decorations... where as some people just don't and similarly say, "why focus on that when you can focus on her life!" It's not that we ignore all of the wonderful things that made these people's almost more like a way of trying to develop some sort of "friendship" or "intimacy" as much as it can be had by knowing every little thing that we can. But yes, everyone has their own way of trying to make that connection.

For me it's got nothing to do with Twitter, etc. I find Twitter abhorrent when abused (which it so often the case really), I've just always been fascinated

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