According to an article in the Dining & Wine section of the New York Times, Bill Clinton has somehow become "an arbiter of international fine dining, conferring a sort of informal Michelin star just by showing up." And, if you travel enough, according to the article, "you will eventually hear a tip that goes something like: 'When you’re in Madrid, try Casa Lucio. Bill Clinton ate there with the King of Spain.' Or “Check out Le Pont de la Tour in London. Bill Clinton loves it.'"
So how, exactly, did Mr. Clinton, whose name still conjures up silly memories of Saturday Night Live skits involving greasy cheeseburgers and fries become known as “earth's No. 1 restaurant maven” overseas? Well...New York Times reporter David Segal explains it this way:
It’s widely (and correctly) assumed that he has good connections everywhere he visits, so he’s unlikely to wind up at a dud. More than most celebrities, he seems like a person who appreciates good food, and before he had heart surgery, he was known for his wide-ranging appetite.
And when Mr. Clinton visits a restaurant, everybody in the room knows it. Douglas Band, an aide who frequently travels with Mr. Clinton...says his boss introduces himself to every diner, as well as every waiter and every kitchen staff member. He will always pose for photographs and sign guest books [and someone] from his staff will send a thank-you note a few days later...
It’s also true that Mr. Clinton’s patronage in the United States has provided P.R. boosts for places like Il Mulino in Manhattan and Georgia Brown’s in Washington...But when it comes to Bill Clinton and overseas restaurants, the upside is on a far greater scale. Managers and owners from Beijing to Iceland and points between say an appearance by Mr. Clinton can be transformational, launching an obscure restaurant to fame...
Although Mr. Clinton might still enjoy an occcasional filet mignon while on the road, he follows a mostly vegetarian diet these days, and during his travels on behalf of Democratic candidates in recent years, he reportedly dined on such healthy menu items as Miso Barley Soup, Black Bean Burritos, and Cauliflower Potato Curry.
Of course, it has also been reported that he is particularly fond of chicken enchiladas and so it's perhaps not surprising that a healthful recipe for this dish appears in The Clinton Presidential Center Cookbook. If you'd like to serve up some Bill Clinton's Favorite Chicken Enchiladas for dinner tonight while watching his address at the Democratic National Convention, here is the simple and sinfully delicious recipe to try:
2 (4 oz) cans chopped green chillies, drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (28 oz) can tomatoes
2 cups chopped onion
2 tsps salt, divided
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
2 cups sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
cup cooking oil
15 corn or flour tortillas
In a large skillet over a medium-high heat, sauté the chillies and garlic in a small amount of oil. Drain the tomatoes, reserving cup of liquid. Break up tomatoes and add to skillet. Add the onion, 1 tsp salt, oregano, and reserved liquid. Simmer, uncovered, until thickened (about 30 minutes).
Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, sour cream, cheese, and remaining salt. In the same skillet over a medium-high heat, heat cup oil. Dip the tortillas in the oil until they become limp and drain well on paper towels. Fill tortillas with the chicken mixture; roll up and arrange side by side, seam side down, in a 9x13x2-inch baking dish. Pour tomato mixture over the enchiladas. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
FOOD FACT: The Clinton Presidential Center Cookbook contains 250 recipes from the former president's lifelong friends, family members, celebrities, and White House staff and cabinet members. Some of the tasty and homey regional recipes include Muhammad Ali's Favorite Bread Pudding, Al and Tipper Gore's Tennessee Tarts, Bono's Black Velvet, Sophia Loren's Penne Alla Puttanesca, James Carville’s Jambalaya, Mary Steenburgen’s Garlic Cheese Grits, and Barbra Streisand’s Southern Lemon Icebox Pie!
FAST FACT: According to the William J. Clinton Foundation, "nearly one in three children and teens in the United States is already overweight or obese. In the past 20 years, childhood obesity rates have doubled and are now at epidemic rates." To combat this growing epidemic, the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation partnered in May 2005 to create the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015, and to inspire young people in the United States to develop lifelong healthy habits." For more information, click here.