One of the burning questions in America today is: What did Elvis eat?
One answer is: ice cream and cookies.
That was the singer's "Last Supper," according to a book I got in the mail the other day, called "The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley." It was written by David Adler, who has written an unauthorized biography of Lisa Marie Presley, "Elvis My Dad."
"The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley" will not, repeat not, be available in your local bookstores until sometime in July. That is when the publisher, Crown Trade Paperbacks, has scheduled its release at a price of $15 a book. What I got in the mail was the uncorrected proof copy.
But as a fan of Elvis, I didn't think his followers should have to wait until the summer to find out, and perhaps emulate, some of the culinary habits of the King of Rock and Roll. So I am revealing some of the findings of the book.
For instance, Elvis' last supper was actually a snack. The day he died, or reportedly died, he ate two scoops of Sealtest peach ice cream and two scoops of another flavor of Sealtest ice cream. The flavor of the second ice cream is unknown, Adler wrote.
I bet it was vanilla. I say this because the Elvis Shopping List can be seen at the Elvis Hall of Fame in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and is reprinted in the book; and it lists Sealtest peach and then Sealtest vanilla as among the grocery-store items that Elvis insisted be available to him every day.
If all Elvis wanted was peach and vanilla, and if the known flavor was peach, then anybody who knows the lyrics to "Blue Suede Shoes" could figure out that vanilla was the other ice cream.
According to Adler, Elvis wanted the two flavors of ice cream mixed together, and then he would dip six Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies in the ice cream.
This recipe, one of the book's "70 authentic recipes" of Elvis eats, came from Pauline Nicholson, one of the cooks at Graceland. In researching the book, Adler talked to the people who fed Elvis.
What the author concluded was that Elvis was a man of the people. Even when he was rich and famous, he still liked peanut butter sandwiches. The only time Elvis cooked, Adler wrote, was one night at Graceland when he made a peanut butter and cheese sandwich.
The book gives this recipe as well: Two scoops of smooth peanut butter, one slice white bread, one slice American cheese. Slather peanut butter on bread, add the cheese and serve open-faced.
In the rush to get this information out, I didn't have time to reflect on the many meanings of "The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley."
On the whole I think more people would prefer his taste in music than his taste in food.
But here are some of the book's insights: Elvis liked barbecued pizza, but it reminded him of his ex-wife. Elvis was such a big fan of the pizza topped with barbecued meat and barbecue sauce made at Coletta's Italian Restaurant in Memphis that he had a charge account there. When he and Priscilla were married, she picked up the pizza. When they were divorced, Elvis ordered ravioli.
Elvis liked doughnuts. He ate about a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at a time. (This is a doughnut-eating rate that rivals that of another of my favorite males, Homer Simpson.)
One of Elvis' favorite words was "burnt." That is also how he liked his food. When the King said "That's burnt, man" it would either mean "compliments to the chef," or "good job on the guitar." Elvis did not use a napkin. Instead he used a towel.
Elvis liked "soaks," a piece of corn bread dunked in a glass of buttermilk. His mother gave them to him when he was baby. Later as an adult, he ate them in bed at Graceland.
Elvis insisted on using a knife and fork to eat his peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and regardless of the size of portion, Elvis never shared.
Elvis did not do aerobics.
Elvis practiced karate until the hurt got bad. He soured on the sport when Priscilla left him for an international karate champion.
Elvis did diet. His favorite diet-food was a banana and gelatin concoction called Diet Shasta gel. The gel was cut into cubes and cubes were formed into a pyramid.
Elvis rarely ate in Graceland's dining room. Instead he favored the "jungle room," which had Kon Tiki chairs, lamps with fake fur lampshades and a bubbling waterfall.