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At the Table with LBJ and Lady Bird: History, Humor, and True Texas Recipes

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by Jean E. Schuler
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This is a singular look at the culinary lives of Lyndon Baines Johnson and his wife. It captures many of the elements of mid-twentieth century American and Texas life and politics with affection and bluntness.

In 1971, Jean E. Schuler, then 11-years-old wrote a letter to the former US President after she visited his ranch. To her delight, Johnson wrote her back. Now, working with access to papers at the LBJ Presidential Library, Schuler has created a scrapbook of sorts which mixes recipes—from Lady Bird, from Zephyr Wilson, who was the Johnsons’ cook in Texas and in the White House, and from other period sources—with historical timelines, personal and political.

Pages are exuberantly decorated, almost as if by Schuler’s 11-year-old self, with stars and drawing, circled text and the occasional historical photograph. The recipes reflect the multiple worlds the Johnsons inhabited, from barbecued brisket and LBJ’s mother’s spoon bread to cucumber canapes and lobster Newberg.

And along the way we learn that LBJ would eat food off someone else’s plate if he thought they weren’t eating it fast enough, that Lady Bird believed there was no nice way to eat ribs, and that the pair of them believed that steak could be served at any meal. We also read Jacqueline Kennedy’s letter to LBJ, written the day after her husband’s funeral, and Lady Bird’s replies to heckler’s on the campaign trail.

Unexpectedly fascinating.

Paperback. Drawings and photographs throughout in color.

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