The President's first meal as Commander in Chief is a big deal. Today's Times tells us what he ate — and will continue to eat, if some people have their way.
We can't imagine the newly-minted President had a tremendous appetite at the traditional Capital Hill luncheon, served post-inauguration — and we're not even talking about the fact that several senators tragically collapsed mid-meal; the man's got to have been exhausted, and running on adrenaline. But tradition must be honored, even if it's an enormous stress for everyone involved. First of all, putting said luncheon together sounds like a major hassle: beyond the evident stresses of serving a multi-course meal to some of the most powerful people in the country, caterers and servers had to contend with multiple security checkpoints, a makeshift temporary kitchen, and such a congested city that several of the caterers opted to camp out in the capital building so as to be on hand early enough to supervise.
were covered with blue damask cloths, the chairs covered with matching blue velvet pillows. On each table were centerpieces of white and lavender hydrangeas and two kinds of red roses, a larger display at the head table. The place plates are copies of the Lincoln china, with the purple border that looked red at the lunch; the silver was gold-plated. Four glasses stood at each plate – two wine, a water glass and a champagne flute.
The menu was also, allegedly, Lincoln-inflected: seafood stew with puff pastry to take off the chill; "platters of perfectly cooked duck and pheasant served on a beautiful bed of carrots, asparagus, wax beans, beets and spinach," pureed sweet potatoes, and "miniature corn muffins, into which a small piece of corn husk had been baked" (and presumably removed by any guest who didn't feel like eating dry leaf.) The dessert was "a cinnamon apple cake with vanilla bean ice cream, sautéed apple cubes and sauce," served, oddly, with Korbel.
As to the kids' menu, served to Malia, Sasha and the numerous grandkids Biden, it was straight-up greatest hits:
Macaroni and cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Chocolate chip cookies
Apple and orange juices and soft drinks
Not bad! But what of the days to come? White House cookery is a hot button issue right now, as Berkeley slow-food doyenne Alice Waters presses for more emphasis on sustainable foods at 1600. In the process, she's been critical of White House chef Cristeta Comerford, which has angered some of Comerford's friends. While Waters is pushing for a new chef whose focus is sustainability, defenders say the White House is already pretty progressive in this regard: at Waters' urging, the Clinton White House installed a small organic roof garden and quietly began sourcing food from co-ops and local farmers. The trend continued under Bush 2: says one former chef, “To her credit, Mrs. Bush was adamant about organic foods...It goes counter to her perceived personality, but it was never important to her that the information be released.” We're sure the Obamas won't be resistant to anything that promotes healthy eating, especially given their power as role models. But one thing is for sure: If Waters has her way, the sort of kids' menus listed above will be a dim memory.
A Mission to Serve Lunch in the Capitol [NYT]
What’s Cooking at the White House? Who’s Asking? [NYT]