CLIFTON FADIMAN PICKS A »TORY FOR FDM'» BIRTHDAY Read it now! Franklin D. Roosevelt would have been 78 years old next Saturday. Admirers and non-admirers will probably agree on two of his qualities. He had a sense of humor, though not a very subtle one. And on occasion he could put up a pretty good bluff. Both these quali- rca ties are illustrated in a 'story that during the last few years has become part of the FDR folklore — and is remembered certain diplomatic circles as "The Sprout Incident." Quite a serious affair, all flowing from the question as to whether or not Lady Churchill's iod y c countrymen know how to cook Brussels sprouts. Now the fact is that FDR doesn't seem to have known or cared much about really good food. But the amusing story here printed shows him, I think, on firm gastronomical ground. It isn't only that our British cousins know only one way to handle Brussels sprouts, which is to treat them to a Turkish bath. It's that they believe the bigger the vegetable the better. Their FDR and the By Mrs. KERMIT ROOSEVELT __. .. '. Tins little -known chapter of wartime diplomacy is one of the best of all FDR stories you've heard. A lady who got the whole thing from the late President himself retells it for you T here had been cocktails and immense quantities of Mr. Stalin's caviar served in the President's study on the evening of March 2 S 1945. We had dined quietly in the West Corridor of the White House. We had heard wondrous accounts of travel and adventure, laughed at official dilemmas, listened to details of the Yalta Conference. As we reluctantly rose to say good night, 1 asked for news of Ambassador Winant. "Oh," said the President, "sit down again. Didn't I tell you Gil is very angry with me?" I sat down on the sofa beside him, aware from the twinkle in his eye that FDR was preparing to amuse himself and me. To repeat exact wording is difficult. To recapture the flavor of one of FDR's anecdotes is all but impossible. I have tried faithfully to produce the substance of his story, using the first person and eliminating quotation marks. The President began: Last summer in Quebec, Mrs. Churchill asked me when I was going to England. Parenthetically, I do want to go to England, and, by the way, expect to go after the San Francisco Conference ends — perhaps while it is still going on. I explained to Mrs. Churchill: "I love England — 1 love the English as I hope you and Winnie and the British people all know. I like London — I like the English country — I don't even mind your English climate. But there is one reason I do not want to go to England. I uu nol like the way you cook your vegetables." Mrs. Churchill expressed surprise and pain. -"Take Brussels sprouts for instance," I said. "Why," I asked, "do you boil them? But if you must boil them, why do you leave the water in them when they are served? Why don't Good fricndf you throw away that gray, saltless, tepid water before sending the Brussels sprouts to the table?" Mrs. Churchill was indignant. An argument ensued. Mrs. Churchill is charming — but determined — so, with sudden inspiration, I proposed a compromise: "I'll come to England if you will promise never to boil my sprouts." "Not boil your Brussels sprouts!" she exclaimed. "How else would you cook Brussels sprouts?" "Why," I responded, "there are dozens of ways —hundreds of ways to cook sprouts. You can make soup of them, and salad — and souffle. They can be roasted, baked, fried and sauteed. Perhaps the broiled Brussels sprout, however, is the best." Mrs. Churchill was incredulous—and so was I, myselfl Nevertheless, I continued rashly, delighted with my own imaginative power: "The sprout, when properly prepared, arouses enthusiasm in even the most fastidious epicure because of its extraordinary flavor, which is lost in boiling — accentuated in the broiling. Unless you have tasted broiled Brussels ^ Vide World But FDR couldn't resist a joke — even one on Lady Churchill sprouts, you can have no conception of the true delicacy of the sprout." Mrs. Churchill was interested. "How," she inquired, "do you broil Brussels sprouts?" I was get- ring in deeper and deeper, but dismissed the subject airily by saying, "Of course, I am no cook — never have cared for cooking itself. Ask somebody else. All Americans love broiled Brussels sprouts — it's a favorite dish." M rs. Churchill never forgets. Returning to 10 Downing Street she sent for her great friend the American Ambassador. "How do you broil Brussels sprouts?" she asked Mr. Winant. "How do I broil Brussels sprouts?" inquired the startled Ambassador. "Why I've never heard of broiled Brussels sprouts. Who ever heard of broiled Brussels sprouts?" Mrs. Churchill is renowned for her serenity, but she was obviously annoyed. "You have never heard of broiled Brussels sprouts?" she repeated almost angrily. "Why, Mr. Winant, how amazing. Your President tells me it is a common and favorite dish in America." Mr. Winant is very quick. He is a good Ambassador and a loyal friend. He gathered himself together and explained that he was the last person in the world to consult about food. "You see," he went on humbly, "I really don't know what I'm eating. I don't notice how things are prepared or cooked — nor even what they are. Of course, now I think about it, the broiled Brussels sprout is almost our national dish. I shall bring back the recipe to you from America." The next time I saw John Winanl he was preternaturally grave. His demeanor and expression indicated an international crisis. "Mr. President," he said, "I must beg for an immediate leave of absence." THIS WEEK Mofloime / January 24, 1940 cricketball sprouts are simply not in a class with the small, nutty, compact French choux dc Bruxelles. The Brussels sprout, it has been noted, has neither a head, like the cabbage, nor a heart, like the cauliflower. Yet the French can take this brainless, heartless vegetable and cook it so that it tastes delicious. Jean Couil in his authoritative "Haute Cuisine" lists 11 ways of treating the lowly sprout. If Mn. Kcoievelt Mr. Roosevelt had known them he might have made Ambassador Winant's job easier. "The Sprout Incident" is told in a little privately printed book by Mrs. Kermit Roosevelt who, via Oyster Bay, is a distant cousih-by-marriage of the late President. It gives us a pleasant view of Mr. Roosevelt's lighter side. Like Lincoln, he knew the value of a joke in times of stress. Mrs. Churchill consulted Ambassador Winant "A leave now, at this time?" I exclaimed in consternation. "Why, Gil, what is the trouble — what has happened?" "Well, Mr. President," he pronounced solemnly, "if a knowledge of cooking is part of diplomatic training and if you are going -to put me on a spot with the Prime Minister's wife, I must take a course of cooking at the Cordon Bleu -— or resign as Ambassador to Great Britain." I had a really bad time placating him. I offered to create a new Cabinet Post, appoint a Secretary for Brussels sprouts or set up another Government agency. Gil was against any such ideas. He insisted on a more tactful approach. He thought we should devise a method of simultaneously educating the British and ourselves in cooking and appreciating the sprout. Gil outlined his vision of English speaking peoples throughout the world pledging themselves to permanent friendship over plates piled high with the once despised Brussels sprouts, the sprout cooked to perfection in many different ways — tender, fragrant, succulent and served always and forever without water! The President asked: "Don't you love it?" using that familiar phrase of his with which he so often ended a favorite story. He chuckled as he paused reflectively, then added: "Gil may think he is on a spot with Mrs. Churchill, but what about me? I'm in a pretty awkward predicament myself." "I can do something for you," I interrupted, suddenly fired with enthusiasm. Copyright I9SS. by Mn. Karait Soosexolt "You don't have io create a new Government Agency. I will collect recipes, past, present and future for Brussels sprouts." FDR did not allow me to forget — hence, recipes were gathered from all parts of the United States. During the following weeks the President inquired many tiroes regarding the progress of the necessary research. On March 24, as I was ending my visit at the White House, he specifically urged that work be hastened in order that he might, himself, present this little book of recipes to Mrs. Churchill on his impending trip to England. That early spring morning in 1945 was the last time I saw the President. The trip to England was never made. I publish these recipes as in trust from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lady Churchill. Th« End How to cook sprouts: Now, turn the page. There THIS WEEK'S Food Editor. Clementine Paddleford, gives - you four sprout recipes from Mrs. Kermit Roosevelt. You'll note she actually did find a recipe for broiling them. As for that British method, here is the recipe just as Mrs. Kermit Roosevelt gives it — with her tongue in cheek: BRITISH BRUSSELS SPROUTS Clean one quart Brussels sprouts and place in pan filled with large amount of used, grey water. Cook for a great length of lime until sprouts have become completely soggy and threaten to fall apart. Take care not to salt. Drain off part of the water and pour rest with sprouts into serving dlih. I hope this recipe won't lose me any readers, for next week's Read-It-Now is too good to miss. 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