By Ed Goldman
The most fascinating accounts to me are what celebrities, mainly very slender women, claim to eat first thing in the morning, because it’s usually either far too hearty to explain their admirable figures, unless they follow breakfast with 40-mile runs and some form of voluntary purging. Or it may consist of items like fresh celery hearts, a gluten-free artisan cracker with a dab of artisan almond butter and gingko tea flavored with free-range lemon. Just typing that has inspired some form of voluntary purging.
Because Ronald Reagan appeared to be one of our fittest presidents—despite his advanced years, reliance on index cards to remind him whom in his cabinet he was meeting with and a tendency to mistake his wife for someone named “Mommy”—there were a number of stories written about his dietary intake, which included Jelly Bellies, the worst substitute imaginable for good old-fashioned Brach’s Jelly Beans. The president also thought that ketchup was a food, if you’ll recall.
To be sure, the stories, which mostly ran in Sunday supplements like “Parade,” “Family Weekly” and “Home, Hearth, Heaven, God and Zero Sex” (I may have made up that last publication), also made serious mention of the physical labor the president put himself through when spending long weekends at his Santa Barbara ranch. There, White House photographers would take pictures of him clearing brush, riding horses and enjoying wine with Claudette Colbert, who’d been a movie star for many years before and after Reagan had, often attributed to her skill in acting.
I used to enjoy those picture spreads though admit I wondered, on more than one occasion, why the Leader of the Free World couldn’t spring for a gardener. Maybe “Mommy” wouldn’t let him spend his allowance on one.
I can see why the White House was eager to depict Reagan as being the mirror opposite of his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, and I suspect it may have extended to a casual remark Carter once made about his breakfast preference: “Juice and coffee.” Whoa! This guy was a farmer? No five-egg omelets, slabs of ham, fried potatoes, white toast, creamery butter and fresh strawberry preserves?
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’ll be back Monday. And please pass the juice and coffee.