The Odd Ingredients Eleanor Roosevelt Paired With Deviled Eggs

Eleanor Roosevelt is a highly regarded historical figure for a variety of achievements. In addition to her marriage to the longest-serving U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the former first lady is often remembered for her humanitarianism, activism, and influence during one of the most trying eras in American history. Lesser known among these accomplishments, perhaps, is Eleanor Roosevelt's unorthodox lunch and dinner menu selections during her time in the White House.

Eleanor Roosevelt isn't remembered as a good cook (or even a passable one). In fact, her time at the White House is responsible for what many consider the worst food ever served there, including meals like deviled eggs paired with tomato sauce and mashed potatoes. It's certainly an unexpected combination and leaves much to be desired in terms of flavor, but this meal – which became a regular on White House menu's during Roosevelt's tenure — had a purpose. 

At a period in history when food rations and resources were limited, the former first lady, being a woman of the people, insisted that the White House menu reflect everyday American wartime provisions. Considering she was no Barefoot Contessa herself, Roosevelt enlisted help from her housekeeper and home economists to curate budget-friendly, nutritious recipes for the first kitchen, becoming infamous for serving the president and White House guests her less-than-glamorous "seven and a half-cent meals" on presidential china. 

With practicality and efficiency taking priority over taste, the first kitchen began churning out meals that pinched pennies, and with that in mind, a dish of deviled eggs, tomato sauce, and mashed potatoes can be looked at in a new light.

Deviled eggs and ... mashed potatoes?

While an egg and potato combo may be appealing for certain meals — say this potato frittata for brunch — certain variations of this pairing sound far less palatable to a modern ear. But eggs are high in protein and were widely available at the time of Roosevelt's tenure, which landed them as a chief ingredient in several low-cost entrees served to the president. Deviled eggs soon became part of the usual White House menu rotation.

To add more substance to the meal, mashed potatoes, considered a starchy comfort food, were often included on the side. If this sounds rather bland for a midday meal, that's where tomato sauce comes in to give the dish a lift in flavor — okay probably only just a tiny lift in flavor.

Although unordinary, deviled eggs and mashed potatoes may not be entirely a recipe faux pas; however, they are far from the only odd pairing that originated in the First Kitchen. While the Roosevelt Administration won't go down in the history books for culinary prowess, we must give their consideration to the common man's condition (including his budget and limited resources) a well deserved applause!