This Was George Washington's Favorite Food

It's no surprise that all U.S. Presidents, both past and present and no matter their tastes in food, have always enjoyed a home-cooked American meal. Abraham Lincoln, for example, couldn't resist bacon even though he ate a mostly bare-bones diet, according to Food Timeline. Herbert Hoover was said to enjoy sweet potato casserole with browned marshmallows on top (via University of Iowa), while Richard Nixon apparently enjoyed cottage cheese and ketchup, says Wide Open Eats. And let's not forget Taft, who enjoyed a 12-ounce steak each day for breakfast, says The Spokesman-Review.

Of course, our first President, George Washington, is no different. Despite the age-old myth that he chopped down his father's cherry tree, Washington was actually described as being fond of the fruit, planting cherry trees all over Mount Vernon (via The Food Historian). Still, the sweet red fruit wasn't Washington's favorite food; rather, he was most fond of a dish known as hoecakes.

What are hoecakes?

Washington enjoyed a breakfast of hoecakes soaked in butter and honey, washed down with a mug of hot tea, according to his visitors and family members, per Mount Vernon. But what are hoecakes?

These pancake-esque, not at all sweet Southern delights are kind of like "cornbread with bones," says Emily Horton for Slate. The flat, dense yet lightly crisp cakes are unleavened, composed of just cornmeal, water, and a dash of salt. Hoecakes' name is often believed to have originated with enslaved African-Americans, who prepared the cakes on the flat surfaces of their farming hoes over a flame. Others — such as Rod Cofield, executive director of Historic London Town and Gardens in Maryland — point out that "hoe" is actually another word for "griddle" that dates back to 1600s England (via History Myths). 

While hoecakes are stirred, poured, and cooked the same way as pancakes, they have a much thicker batter that results in a heavier cake. Many variations of the dish exist today, but Slate suggests the classic of high-quality white or yellow cornmeal, water, and salt fried in peanut oil. The recipe on Paula Deen's website, on the other hand, adds flour, eggs, buttermilk, and sugar and cooks the hoecakes in bacon grease. Try both, fry others, and pick one that best suits your tastes.