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TO SERVE THE KING
ELVIS PRESLEY CALLED MARY JENKINS May-Wee. Jenkins—for the final 14 years of the King's life—called Elvis for dinner. And breakfast and lunch and snacks in between. As Jenkins tells it in The Burger and the King: The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley, which premieres Aug. 16 on Cinemax, you couldn't get closer to Elvis than being his cook.
Presley, who was 6' tall and weighed more than 250 lbs. when he died, liked food. Having grown up in poverty, once he made it, Elvis, like Scarlett O'Hara, vowed never to go hungry again. For breakfast, which the singer usually ate in mid-afternoon, Jenkins would prepare five scrambled eggs, a half pound of pork sausage, six buttermilk biscuits, Cream of Wheat, orange juice and coffee. "I remember seeing Mr. Elvis sitting in his bed. eating those sausages and biscuits with the butter just running down his arms," she says.
Other Presley faves included fried peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches, lemon icebox pie, vegetable beef soup with corn-bread, and collard greens with ham hocks. "He loved his food real rich," she says.
It showed. Once, in an attempt to help her ever-growing boss slim down, Jenkins served up a sparse, low-fat meal. "He told me to come get that tray and bring him his breakfast," she says. "I told him we were just trying to help him go on a diet, and he said, 'Who writes your checks?' "
Not only did he write the checks, he also bought Jenkins a Pontiac and the Memphis house where she still lives. "I was blessed by God," she says, "to get the job working for him."