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Food Service Manager
Iowa Memorial Union
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-3105

Release: Immediate

'First Stomach' collection on display in Terrace Lobby of Iowa Memorial Union

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A unique collection of United States presidential documents from the Culinary Archives and Museum at Johnson and Wales University of Providence, R.I., will be exhibited at the University of Iowa in the Terrace Lobby of the Iowa Memorial Union until March 31.

Internationally renowned, this "collection within a collection" includes handwritten and signed food-related documents from presidents and their wives from George and Martha Washington to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Known as "The First Stomach," the group of original documents is part of the Szathmary Family Culinary Collection which also includes presidential books, newspaper clippings, as well as cookbooks and other books on banquets, table china, and entertainment by the president and first families.

The collection was donated to Johnson and Wales University by Hungarian-born Louis Szathmary, restaurateur, chef, writer, culinary scholar, book collector, and owner of Chicago's famous "Bakery Restaurant."

"There is humor as well as history in these rare and unusual papers," explains Barbara Kuck, curator of the museum. An example is the handwritten letter by President Warren G. Harding with his compliments on the venison and pheasant along with a mild complaint: "The pity is we never get any limburger and onions."

Food served at the table of early presidents also indicates the dependence on game, fowl, plantation produce and regional specialties.

The collection is part of more than 400,000 food-related items Chef Szathmary donated to Johnson and Wales on his retirement, creating the world's largest archives and museum of culinary arts and hotel and restaurant management.

In conjunction with this exhibit the Iowa Memorial Union's State Room restaurant will be hosting a dinner of "Presidential Favorites" on Feb. 18. Reservations for this presidential event can be made by calling (319) 335-3105.

The UI Libraries also maintains the Szathmary Collection of Culinary Arts based on more than 25,000 culinary related items donated by the Szathmary's to the University of Iowa. The collection is housed in the University Main Library under the direction of David E. Schoonover.