An Excerpt from Gil Robinson's:                                      

International Publishers, Inc.



During World War II, I was Mess Sergeant to the Supreme Headquarters of General Eisenhower for more than three and a half years. I’ll never forget the first time he inspected the mess hall and kitchen.

Other officers I had known went through with all the pomp and ceremony of Napoleon, sticking their white gloves into every nook and cranny looking for dust.

Eisenhower, instead, inspected with a thorough knowledge of what he was doing. He looked into the pots, tasted the food, asked what was on the menu for the troops. He checked the storage of food in refrigerators. He went right to the heart of the problem, checking all the things that really counted. There was nothing “chicken” about him.

He himself was not a fussy eater, although he loved food and was an excellent cook – as I found out to my chagrin.

Knowing the conditions he had to work under, and the strain on him, I tried to take extra pains to prepare foods he liked. I knew he liked baked beans New England style. One evening I put the beans in individual crocks, and since our mess had no fire going during the night, I took the beans to a bakery and left them there to bake slowly overnight.

The next day I served the beans at lunch. I stood around to see how he liked them. After lunch he ap­proached me and said: “Marty, I thought you were a chef. These are not New England baked beans. You put tomato in them. Real New England baked beans are made with sorghum syrup or black molasses . . . ”

I bowed my head in shame as the General reeled off the recipe. Next time, the beans were a success even though I had to search every Quartermaster center in Europe to find the right ingredients.

When we first moved headquarters to France, the local people presented the General with a cow, so that he would have fresh milk. That night three of us, all city boys, went to the stall where “Betsy” was kept, to see if we could figure out how to get milk for the General’s breakfast. “Betsy” would not cooperate. We were absorbed in our efforts – and getting absolutely no place – when we heard an amused voice boom out on the other side of the stall:

“Need a hired hand there?” It was the Supreme Com­mander himself.

P.S. The next morning we all had fresh milk.