This article was written by Jack M. Kneece, Washington Bureau of the News and was printed in The Dallas Morning News on Sunday, 14 June 1981.
Note: The Wends landed in Texas in December 1854 and sent Carl Lehmann and John Dube inland to find land. They found a league of land with a clear title and bought it from A. C. Delaplane who had gotten it as a grant from the State of Texas.
Washington - When heads of state get together, no effort is spared to create just the right ambiance for accord, and no one knows this better than Cliff Teinert of Albany, Texas.
Someone in Franklin Roosevelt's administration had to know what kind of cigars Winston Churchhill smoked in case he ran out, or what kind of brandy he drank. Churchill one held up a dinner while aides scurried about for a certain kind of mustard he liked with ham.
Because of such attention to detail in creating the right mood, it may seem only natural that the White House would ask Teinert, 42, to work his magic on roast sirloin for the dinner that President Reagan and Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo shared at Camp David, the presidential retreat, Monday night.
The roast was so good everyone returned for seconds, and Teinert said Wednesday that much of the success was due to the mesquite wood he had shipped up for the barbecue coals.
The inspiration for bringing Teinert to camp David came from Linda Faulkner of Dallas, former public relations manager for Neiman-Marcus, who's now assistant White House social secretary.
Teinert, a rancher with oil interests who raises registered longhorn cattle and cooks for a hobby, prepared the beef for the department store's October Fortnight celebrations and did the same for Lady Bird Johnson on three occasions. He has won the International Cowboy Campfire Cookoff at Abilene three times.
Ms Faulkner, 31, said she remembered how delicious the roast was and suggested to the White House that Teinert be invited to work his culinary magic for the Camp David party of about two dozen.
"I think what sold them was that he emphasized the use of mesquite wood to cook the meat," she said. "They seemed to like the authenticity of it."
Teinert said mesquite, with its natural oils, is a hardwood that burns hotter than oak or hickory and makes better coals for barbecue.
After Teinert was asked to prepare the sirloin roasts, he said he went to the Gooch Packing Co. in Abilene and asked for the best seven strips of sirloin, at 10 to 15 pounds per strip, that they had.
"They gave me some good ones, too," he said. "They would just melt in your month."
The next thing Teinert did was arrange to have 200 pounds of mesquite wood shipped to Camp David.
He said when he arrived, he was chagrined to find a dinky little barbecue pit ordered built by President Eisenhower. It was only about two by three feet and not big enough to barbecue the big sirloin strips.
So he said he just used the pit to get the mesquite coals going, then transferred them to a newly excavated pit about four by two feet and over two feet deep.
He said he cooked the strips slowly for two hours, from 5 to 7 p.m., turning them over only once to sizzle the fat side.
And unlike some, Teinert said he uses no arcane barbecue sauces or mysterious family recipes - "just salt and pepper. The mesquite's the secret."
"The aroma from the wood and the meat is fabulous," said Ms. Faulkner, who added that everyone at the event seemed to enjoy the food, including Lopez Portillo, who liked his rare. And Vice President George Bush seemed to take a special gustatory delight in the dinner, said Teinert.
The forthright method involved in the barbecuing process recalls Teinert's family background. The Teinerts were Lutherans who left Germany because of religious oppression. They first came to Texas via Galveston in 1853, aboard a sailing ship named the Ben Nevis, then moved inland and obtained state land grants.
The Teinerts became ranchers, and Teinert said his cooking is in the chuck wagon style, used back when beef was a staple and hungry hands on cattle drives were not patient enough for anything time consuming and fancy.
He said pinto beans, beef, salt pork, hardtack biscuits and wild game were the staples of such cattle drives conducted by the early Teinert ranchers.
His great-great-grandfather was a pony express rider, and Teinert said family history includes stories about the Indians chasing Johann Teinert somewhere between LaGrange and Houston.
Teinert said he enjoyed the Camp David experience, which he termed "a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing," and said he and Lopez Portillo chatted, through an interpreter, and found they had mutual friends in Mexico.