The Mondales serve trout, pasta in the garden
Barbecuing fresh trout for a family is one thing, but when you're cooking for 70 or more newspaper food editors and writers, you can't blame a cook for wondering how it will all come out.Skip to next paragraph
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Even when it's the vice-president of the United States, an expert at answering questions from the press, twirling fettucini and watching the fish all at the time gets a bit tricky.
Fritz Mondale took it all in stride even though the garden got a bit smoky when the fish caught on fire. As the flames died down someone asked if the fish should be basted.
"I think we can throw them away now," Mondale said, but it was far from necessary. The fish came out fine.
It all took place in what the vice-president and Mrs. Mondale call the grill garden as they entertained members of the food press attending an annual convention in Washington.
A barbecue grill and tables were set up in a private grassy area, surrounded by a high green hedge with a border garden of dwarf marigolds and ageratum.
A few minutes after the guests arrived, there was much static from walkie-talkies announcing the vice-president's arrival. He had come from his weekly business lunch with the President, looking very businesslike with briefcase.
In a few minutes he came from the house dressed for cooking, in a while butcher's apron over blue cord trousers and a blue shirt with an embroidered pocket emblem saying "Grand Ole Opry's Stoney Mountain Cloggers," a gift from a campaign trip to Nashville.
Before the chef arrived food editors were served cold beverages and a special appetizer Mr. Mondale said he would never attempt to make, lumpia. These are the Philippine version of Chinese egg rolls, but much smaller and lighter. The naval personnel who run the house had made them.
Though it doesn't seem to be very wellknown, the vice-president really does cook. Fish is probably his specialty since he's been going fishing for years with the same cronies, cooking much of the catch. Fishing is his favorite kind of relaxation, he said, and he likes to deep fry fish as well as barbecue it.
"My fishing pals love to cook," he said." They're Italian and they've taught me a few pasta dishes." One, Fettucini Alfredo a la Pimento Mondale, he made for us for lunch.
Moving from the smoky grill over to a table Mondale mixed the pasta in a silver chafing dish, adding cream and butter and grated Parmesan cheese.
The fish he cooks comes from his fishing trips and he often brings back some for friends. He gave a northern pike to President Carter recently, he said, although he'd promised a walleyed pike, but didn't catch one.
Since the stewards are off Sundays Mr. Mondale often cooks a sunday night supper. He sometimes barbecues hamburgers, steaks, or chicken. His other Italian rcipes include some spaghetti dishes.
The vice-president admitted he has never cooked for an audience before and said he really wasn't too keen about the idea. He laughed when someone said he probably wouldn't have done it except in an election year.
"I've learned a limited amount about cooking, but not everything," he said.
"The last time I made fettucini I used oleo- margarine. Don't do it," he advised.
Members of the food press asked many questions.
"Did you have this grill specially made?"
I just told the Public Works Department to get a barrel and cut it in half and make a barbecue out of it."
"Will you take it with you when you leave?"
"No, I'm low-budget vice-president."
"Have you ever entertained President Carter?"
"Yes around Christmas time."
"Did you do the cooking?"
"No, that's one of the rules."
"Do you want to take credit for those fish?" someone asks.
"No," he said, "if they aren't good you'll write bad stories.
By this time the fish were done and finally was convinced to serve them.
The trout delicious and other dishes also -- fettucini which had been prepared in the house, wild rice, and fresh vegetables.
Mondale seemed to enjoy himself and the company. He stayed around for some time after his cooking demonstration and talked about his fishing -- what kind of fishing he likes and where he goes -- in Minnesota, Canada, the Great Lakes.
After what everyone agreed was a star performance, he left for a tennis game and a week of vacation.