The former First Lady weighs in on her love of Spain, her friendship with chef José Andrés and the transformative power of travel.

By Christine Quinlan
August 17, 2017
Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images

Go-To Night Out

Barack and I met José Andrés when we first came to Washington and to the White House. We learned about him through his phenomenal restaurants, which are among our very favorites in DC. I could sometimes sneak out with friends for dinner, and José’s restaurants were places of comfort, great food, good drinks and friendship.

Crazy for Tapas

Spain has so much incredible food. 
I like anything with jamón, 
cheese, olives, bread and olive oil. 
I could eat that forever. 

Mom Knows Best

My favorite dish growing up was 
my mom’s mac and cheese. She didn’t 
make it often, so when she did it 
was special. It was creamy, delicious, warm 
and cheesy...very, very cheesy. 

Think Globally, Eat Locally

Traveling is so important. I always tell people, step outside your comfort zone and try something new that’s unique to the place you’re visiting (while, of course, being safe). 

Common Threads

I’ve been struck by how, no matter where I am in the world, people all want the same things. 
They want meaningful work and to keep their kids safe. They have so many of the 
same hopes and fears. Traveling helps you build empathy. You see that all of these divisions 
we have about issues like religion, skin color and sexual orientation are insignificant 
compared to how much we all have in common. 

The Right Moves

José has been integral to our Let’s Move! initiative to help kids grow up healthy. He’s worked closely with [chef and adviser] Sam Kass and me over the years, and I respect and admire his advocacy for healthy eating in general, and particularly for children in Washington, DC, and across the country.

Just Beet It

I know that I’m known for eating my 
vegetables, and there really isn’t much I don’t enjoy. But I’m just not a fan of beets.