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We take a moment to celebrate the second most meaningless of U.S. holidays (second only to Columbus Day, of course). But since we name drop our Prez like US Weekly just can’t give up their Lindsey Lohan spreads, we certainly can’t let this holiday pass us by. In fact, we here at Girl Meets Food are stepping it up and making President’s Day a week-long affair. Take that, MLK!

This week, we’ll share some epicurean particulars of both well-known and obscure presidents alike. In between being the most important men in the free world, they all had to eat, too. Presidents, they’re just like us! First up, let’s pay a bit of tribute to perhaps the most well-known presidential gastronomes of all time: Mr. Thomas Jefferson himself.

Thomas “Founding Foodie” Jefferson

Presidency: 1801-1809

Notable accomplishments: Doubled the size of America when he acquired the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803. Sent two men out to discover America with the Lewis & Clark expedition–a mission that, in retrospect, could have been potentially fatal.

Favorite Foods: Fresh vegetables, salads, figs, olives, crab, venison, light wines (Madeira, specifically).

Jefferson ushered in the 19th century with the panache and flair of a Renaissance Man. A gourmand, traveler, farmer, innovator, horticulturalist, and philosopher, no list of presidential superlatives can be complete without the mention of Jefferson. As a diplomat, he traveled far and wide, taking notes not only about foreign affairs but also on food and gastronomic innovations. After tasting waffles in Holland, he immediately purchased a waffle maker. It’s that sort of impulse buy that connects Jefferson with us modern-day foodist types.

At his famed home in Monticello, Jefferson further exemplified his love for food with his vegetable garden. Jefferson meticulously recorded his experiments with seedlings acquired from his travels throughout Italy, France, and Mexico, along with the seeds introduced by his adventurous friends Lewis & Clark. He planted what were then new-fashioned crops of tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and eggplants–staples in our food systems today. His favorite was the English pea, in which he famously planted 15 different varieties in order to find the best one. When he ever had time to be president is beyond me.

Lastly, Jefferson was a connoisseur of fine European wines. It has been recorded that he regularly enjoyed 1-4 glasses of wine a day.  Now that’s a man after our own hearts.

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