A pound of bacon, a loaf of Italian bread, peanut butter and jelly. OK, Mr. Presley, dinner is served.
Elvis’ dietary needs--and they made his other pursuits appear tame--are the topic of “The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley” (Crown, $15), a no-rolls-barred account of the meals that stretched a thousand jumpsuits.
The groundbreaking “food biography” is the tongue-in-cheek work of David Adler, an Elvis fan who invested his time and effort (too much, perhaps) tracking the King’s chow from cradle to . . . well, you know where he died.
Adler interviewed Elvis’ Graceland cooks. His valet. His Tupelo, Miss., neighbors. He gathered menus from Elvis’ high school. And the Army. And Las Vegas hotels. He hung out with Elvis’ stepbrothers. And Elvis’ coroner. And Barbara Eden.
The “I Dream of Jeannie” star worked with Elvis on the forgettable film “Flaming Star,” where Presley played a half-breed who protects his Indian mother from white ranchers. (Remember?)
Barbara was his love interest. Her mealtime recollections of Presley: “Good table manners. If he didn’t (have them), I would remember that.”
Though initially thin, Elvis bulked up nicely--at the time of his death, he weighed in at 255 pounds.
Don’t waste any time wondering why. Adler provides the, ahhhh, skinny on Graceland’s departed gourmand.
Adler discovered E’s favorite meals were more than simply food--they earned their very own titles: the Fool’s Gold Loaf. The Palm Beach Burger, with a Chocolate Shake a la Gridiron. Cheeseburger Delight. (Yes, Elvis did like red meat.)
The Fool’s Gold was a particularly sumptuous feast. Elvis, 18 months before his death, swept two guests via private jet straight from Graceland’s Jungle Room to Glendale, Colo., for a taste of this treat.
The main ingredients: one loaf of Italian white bread, smeared with butter and tossed into an oven at 350 degrees; one pound of lean bacon, fried and drained.
After 15 minutes, the loaf is removed and sliced lengthwise. Hollow out the inside of each half; smear peanut butter and jelly inside, add the bacon, slap the two halves together.
Yield, according to the book: 1 serving (Elvis), 8 to 10 servings (others). Cost: $49.95 per sandwich; hence, the name.
Throw in fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, chicken-fried steak, fried dill pickles, fried chicken with potato chip coating. . . . You get the idea; he got the cholesterol.
What else made the King’s mouth water? Adler’s research turned up these Elvis food facts:
* Favorite seasoning: Salt.
* Cooking Tip: Make it well done. (“That’s burnt, man,” was high praise.)
* Favorite pizza topping: Barbecued pork, with barbecue sauce instead of tomato sauce, from Coletta’s Italian Restaurant in Memphis.
* Ambience: Leave the TV on. (Shooting out tube during dinner optional.)
* Favorite dessert: Del Monte fruit cocktail with coconut flakes, raisins and mini-marshmallows.
* What drink to serve with dinner: Bottle of Pepsi.
* Favorite snacks: Brownies, Girl Scout cookies, Eskimo Pies, Nutty Buddies. (Detect a pattern here?)
* Favorite doughnuts: Krispy Kreme jelly doughnuts, by the box.
* Napkins: Save ‘em. “He used towels,” said Billy Stanley, Elvis’ stepbrother. “He’d say, ‘Bring me a beach towel.’ ‘Cause he’d make such a mess.”
Adler’s work, although tasty, was high in calories: He put on 10 pounds while chomping in the King’s teeth marks. His favorite meal, prepared by ex-Graceland cook Pauline Nicholson, was a chicken-fried steak (that’s steak, coated with breading, then fried) and mashed potatoes served on plates once used in Graceland.
For those who believe Elvis is alive, Adler says, some sightings back up this contention. Adler notes that Elvis sightings are frequently at grocery stores, 7-Elevens or fast-food restaurants--haunts not unknown to Presley.
One particular account, of Elvis ordering a Whopper in Kalamazoo, Mich., particularly struck the author.
“What gives (this) account eerie credibility is that . . . Burger King was by far Elvis’ favorite fast food chain,” Adler wrote.
Elvis’ Shopping List
These items were to be kept in the Graceland “kitchen and house for Elvis-- at all times--every day. " Purchases often were made at the local Piggly Wiggly. The four major Elvis food groups: meat, vegetables, tobacco and over-the-counter medication. The cost: about $500 a week:
* Fresh, lean unfrozen ground round steak.
* One case regular Pepsi.
* One case orange drink.
* At least six cans of biscuits.
* Hamburger buns.
* Potatoes and onions.
* Assorted fresh fruit.
* Cans of sauerkraut.
* At least three bottles of milk, and half and half.
* Lean bacon.
* Peanut butter.
* Fresh, hand-squeezed cold orange juice.
* Banana pudding.
* Ingredients for meatloaf and sauce.
* Ice cream (vanilla and chocolate).
* Shredded coconut.
* Fudge cookies.
* Gum (Spearmint, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit--three each).
* Cigars (El Producto Diamond Tips and Altas).
* Super Anahist.
* Sucrets (antibiotic red box).
* Feenamint gum.
* Matches (four to five books).
Source: Associated Press