First in an occasional series about the eating habits of the presidential candidates.
For some people, what’s coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth is downright scary. Almost as frightening, at least to those of us who see the stomach as a window to the soul, is what is going in.
Wendy’s on his custom Boeing 757 while campaigning with Jerry Falwell Jr. in Iowa. McDonald’s with advisers during a swing through New Hampshire. Two eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and two biscuits at the Ham House during a pit stop in Greenville, S.C.
The world is his oyster, but that’s not what he’s consuming. The front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination eats like a teenage boy, inhaling Filets-o-Fish and Big Macs. “It’s great stuff,” he says of his fast-food habit. At a time when growing, cooking and enjoying food in the United States is yuuuuge, his preferences are surprisingly pedestrian — and passe, as if Alice Waters had never been born and food were fuel (albeit dirty gas as opposed to premium).
The craziest thing he says he has eaten on the road? Oreos. His go-to drink? The teetotaler washes meals back with Diet Coke, an ironic choice given that the vain billionaire once tweeted, “I have never seen a thin person drink Diet Coke.” Pressed to describe his taste in food, Trump invariably ticks off generic pasta and beef. See’s candies and cherry vanilla ice cream rank among his favorite sweets.
Flavor and nutrition appear to be afterthoughts, while food safety is a priority. Trump, a reluctant hand-shaker who has been known to chew out double-dippers at parties, told CNN that the fast-food chains’ cleanliness is part of their appeal. “One bad hamburger, and you can destroy McDonald’s,” said Trump, ever the businessman with an eye on the bottom line.
One thing is certain. Trump’s choices aren’t likely to be endorsed by moms, cardiologists or the Culinary Institute of America.
Breakfast is his least favorite meal of the day, and if he indulges, he prefers bacon and eggs, or cornflakes “right out of the fields of Iowa,” he told Fox News before the debate he skipped — in Iowa. Lunch might be eaten at his desk. “My big thing is dinner.” That’s when, he has revealed in various Q&As, he likes pasta, second helpings of potatoes au gratin and the aforementioned steak, which, unlike any serious eater, he wants cooked so thoroughly that “it would rock on the plate,” according to what his longtime butler at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach told the New York Times.
Google “Donald Trump favorite vegetable,” and up pops a tweet comparing his wind-mussed locks to corn silk. If he eats anything cruciferous, it’s a mystery, right up there with how he combs that hair.
Does Trump enjoy the act of eating, the pleasure many of us get from touching, smelling and rolling food and drink around on our tongues? By some accounts, he is a human Hoover known for annihilating what’s on his plate.
In the one criticism of her father that Ivanka Trump shared with Barbara Walters, she said, “I want him to eat healthier,” and less quickly. “But it’s the only speed he knows.”
His eating habits, no doubt, are bound to endear him to certain voters, who see some of themselves in him, minus several billion bucks.
“I always say that we’re blue-collar Americans who’ve been very blessed by success,” Donald Trump Jr. told The Washington Post in January. “My dad isn’t the type who puts on a tuxedo and eats caviar. He’s a burgers-and-pizza kind of guy.”
Well, sort of. The Queens native likes fast food, just not all of it. Consider his outing five years ago with Sarah Palin to the Famous Famiglia pizzeria in Times Square, when Trump used a plastic knife and fork and ate only the toppings, a rare (and odd) elitist moment. Comedian Jon Stewart lambasted him: “Based on how you eat pizza, Donald, I want to see your long-form birth certificate. I don’t think you were really born in New York.” Trump responded via video from his office: “I like to not eat the crust so we can keep the weight down at least as good as possible.”
Yet he has no problem eating bread on sandwiches, his pick of which packs in meatloaf, his third wife, Melania, told Martha Stewart. Meatloaf seems to be the mogul’s ambrosia. The dish, based on a family recipe, appears on the menu at his club at Mar-a-Lago. And his sister, federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, has baked meatloaf for him on his birthday.
Although his brand is affixed to a wine label, in a font similar to that on U.S. currency, Trump has never imbibed. For the record, the Charlottesville winery he bought from socialite Patricia Kluge in 2011, now under the ownership and oversight of Trump’s son Eric, yields a respectable sparkling wine. Made from chardonnay grapes, the 2009 sparkling blanc de blanc offers up subtle pear and brioche notes.
Otherwise, his prosaic taste informs his empire. The dining venues within his Trump Tower in Manhattan are less than Trumptastic, according to the critics at Eater New York. A bacon cheeseburger from a steam table in the Trump Cafe was reviewed as “way overcooked, real prison food,” while a crepe from Trump’s Ice Cream Parlor was finished with Reddi-Wip and Hershey’s chocolate syrup, pedestrian garnishes at odds with “the luxury pretenses of the tower.”
As the race to the White House continues, and every aspect of the remaining candidates in both parties is scrutinized, the kitchen staff of the executive mansion must be shuddering at the thought of a Trump administration. In her nightmares, chef Cristeta Comerford would be ignoring everything she has learned: Instead of reaching out to celebrity chefs for help with state dinners and celebrating the best of America, the top toque at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is calling the golden arches, brushing up on the not-so-fine art of the meatloaf, and overcooking steaks for the commander in chief.