What's Cooking in the First Family's Kitchen?

by Sarah Henry on June 2, 2009 · 6 comments

in food politics


Not much, judging by recent mainstream media reports. On Sunday, the New York Times noted that Michelle Obama’s big push on the eat-locally-grown-food front (think White House victory garden) may not extend to making a home-cooked meal. And last month the Washington Post revealed that when the First Lady was asked (albeit, it turns out, some time ago) for her favorite recipe, she responded, “Cooking isn’t one of my huge things.”

Wait. What’s that sound? Alice Waters on the West Coast having an anxiety attack. There’s more. When a boy visiting the White House asked Ms. Obama if she likes to cook, she said: “I don’t miss cooking. I’m just fine with other people cooking.”

Cue collective groan from nutrition educators who tirelessly attempt to whip up enthusiasm for the quaint concept of a family dinner made from scratch by parents.

But going after Michelle over her reluctance to make a meal feels a bit retro folks. Has anyone asked Barack if he bakes? Does he fix dinner for his girls? I mean, I know The President is a tad busy, what with the downturn in the economy, health care reform, and a smattering of global crises he needs to stay on top of, but everyone has to eat, right?

The Obama Foodorama blog immediately went on the defensive in a post challenging many of the assumptions cooked up by Amanda Hesser in her op-ed article for the Times. But no word on whether either parent makes dinner at home in the long post. Others weighed in on this food fight, perhaps no more scathing and succinct as Regina Schrambling over at gastropoda. Still, I suspect a guest appearance on Oprah is in Obama’s future, where those much-discussed arm muscles could be put to good use whisking up a vinaigrette for a gorgeous salad sourced from the White House veggie patch.

Now it’s your turn: Just how important is it to see the First Lady and Commander in Chief play chef? Should Sasha and Malia routinely sit down to a meal made by mom and dad? What do you think?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

leigh June 2, 2009 at 7:22 pm

How often have past First Ladies cooked dinner for their families? I think we can cut Michelle some slack here, no?


Sarah Henry June 13, 2011 at 8:15 am

Good point, Leigh, duly noted.


love food but hate to cook June 3, 2009 at 6:42 am

I’d be happy to let someone cook for me! Most important is sitting down together to eat as a family regardless of who cooks, which, if we are to believe what we’ve been told is what goes on in the White House these days.


Sarah Henry June 13, 2011 at 8:16 am

Well said, LFBHTC. The family meal is fast becoming a thing of the past, so the Obamas do set a good example in this regard.


Melissa Graham September 22, 2009 at 12:17 pm

While I’m a chef and an advocate for getting families back to the table, I fully agree with love food, but hate to cook. The first lady has a lot on her plate and I think that we can cut her some slack for not cooking the food on the plate. For myself and my family, when I’m working 12 hour days, I’m happy to have someone else do the cooking. What I do find important is that my family still eats together. Therefore, I try to take the time away from my schedule to share that time around the table even if I then have to go back to work.


Sarah Henry June 13, 2011 at 8:17 am

Agreed, Melissa. Ironically, I find the more I write about food the less time I actually have to cook anything terribly ambitious. That said, like you, I’m a huge proponent of the family dinner. Lots of things come to light around the dinner table with a pre-teen, let me tell you.


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