Monday, 21 July 2008
Andrew Jackson's Cheese
At the heart of the West Wing episode "The Crackpots and these Women" is the story of Andrew Jackson's cheese. The story is told in John and Claire Whitcomb's (they are father and daughter) fascinating book "Real Life at the White House".
In 1835 the dairymen of Oswego County, New York presented President Jackson with a 1,400 pounds cheese - which was four feet in diameter and two feet thick. He allowed it to age for two years in the White House! Then, for his last big reception before leaving office, he held a cheese tasting - to which the public were invited.
The Whitcomb's describe the scene "Shops and offices closed early, and a throng descended on the White House. The marshal of the city and his deputies screened people at the front door, but what a contemporary called 'rag-a-muffins of the city' got into the gardens, climbed to the terrace, and entered through the East Room windows to mix with congressmen, officers in dress uniform, and elaborately arrayed diplomats. The rooms overflowed with people, until the hall, the doorway, every possible space, were filled...The cheese was demolished in two hours; the White House floors and carpets were likewise demolished, and the mansion reeked of cheddar for months"