Former President Jimmy Carter's Favorite Food Is A Southern Fave - And It Isn't Peanuts

Jimmy Carter's love of food is no secret. One might wonder if a conventionally "healthy" diet is the secret behind the longevity of the longest-living president in the history of the United States, but all his life, the Southern man has enjoyed chicken casseroles, his wife's "Plains Special" cheese rings, and, of course, a host of peanut delicacies (thanks to his upbringing selling the legumes).

Growing up on a Georgia farm, Carter enjoyed organic vegetables, milk products, and everything the land had to offer. Though Carter's life dramatically changed from selling peanuts as a 5 year old to becoming the POTUS, his taste buds always craved the freshness of farm-grown food. Even after he moved into the White House, Carter expressed an affinity for the foods he ate growing up, asking staff members if they could cook country food for his family. "And their response was, 'Yeah, we've been cooking that kind of meal for the servants for the last 20 years,'" he once told Oprah.

Many consider Carter the to be hero of the American peanut industry, and while he enjoyed the legume in many forms, it wasn't his favorite thing to eat. Instead, Carter's favorite recipe is another Southern favorite.

Grits are Carter's Southern favorite

In 1976, The New York Times told the world just how much Jimmy Carter loved dairy products. He ate butter and crackers as a snack, religiously drank milk every day, and loved buttermilk, too. But his favorite thing to eat was cheese. Carter's sister Gloria Spann told the publication that growing up, he loved to eat cheese sandwiches. He loved cheese so much that he incorporated it into his other favorite food: grits.

Carter loved himself a creamy bowl of cheese grits. "Daddy makes grits for breakfast, then breaks a couple of eggs into it and adds some cheese, and it's yummy," his daughter Amy told The New York Times. According to an aide, Carter never ate huge portions, but whatever he was served, he ate without objection.

Besides grits and other cheesy goodness, the Carter family diet includes lots fresh vegetables, simply prepared meats, and homemade fare. Carter has his wife Rosalynn to thank for maintaining the balance without a compromise. "She is a strict dietitian and a very good cook. She makes all our family meals," he told The Washington Post. Besides eating a variety of nutritious foods, Carter says he maintains his vitality by being physically active and keeping himself busy with chores and hobbies at home.

He enjoys wine from time to time

Perhaps not alongside grits, but Jimmy Carter also enjoys a glass of wine from time to time. According to the 2014 book "Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt: The Complete History of Presidential Drinking" by Mark Will-Weber, the former president isn't a huge drinker, so he would usually opt for white wine when giving toasts (via The New York Post). And, he was the first president that would only allow American-produced wine in the White House. He was also the first president to ban alcohol from the White House, outside of the prohibition era and, indeed, served alcohol-free wine at presidential parties, according to Alcohol Professor. Despite not having a big taste for it himself, he helped push beer production in 1978 by allowing Americans to make their own wine and beer.

In 2005, Carter actually took up winemaking in his free time. In an interview with Wine Spectator, he explained that his love of the craft stems from a family tradition. "My grandfather made wine on a very large scale. He had about 15 acres of grapes [in Georgia], and he made all of that into wine–which is a lot of wine," he said. Though the recipes were passed down, Carter didn't exactly use the same tried-and-true methods. "I've modified the recipe dramatically because in the had a lot of sugar left over, with a very sweet wine," he explained.

Food always differed at White House dinners

Of course, not everybody shares the same tastes as Jimmy Carter, so during state dinners, he'd have to switch things up to accommodate the masses. The selections changed dramatically depending on who the White House was hosting. When former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau dined with the Carter administration, the dinner included Alaskan king crab, roast stuffed saddle of lamb, and three wine selections: Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, Saint Michelle Chenin Blanc, and Beaulieu Extra Dry. When British Prime Minister Callaghan visited, the menu included Atlantic sea scallop soup, roast rib of beef, and Yorkshire pudding among others.

Creating the perfect menu for a White House celebration would unsurprisingly be anxiety-provoking. And, managing the presidents, and their families' particular tastes would be the most challenging aspect of the job according to President Carter's White House chef Henry Haller (per Swiss Info). Originally hired by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 who dined on lobster thermidor, Haller served five presidents including Richard Nixon's penchant for polenta. But, despite being chosen from a plush hotel restaurant in New York, he still had no trouble cooking President Carter's favorite home-style country food.