Obama Inaugural Lunch Highlights American Heritage Foods

2009 Inaugural Lunch, Statuary Hall - Photo: US Senate

With just over a week to go before the inaugural ceremonies begin in Washington, details about the related events are slowly emerging from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. One of these events is the Inaugural Luncheon, a tradition dating back to President William McKinley’s 1897 inauguration.

Newly Inaugurated President Obama delivering a speech at the 2009 Inaugural LuncheonArlington, VA-based catering company Design Cuisine has been hired to cater the official luncheon that is held in Statuary Hall (the old House Chamber) at the Capital building immediately following the swearing-in ceremony. Over two hundred guests will be attending, including the President, Vice-President, his cabinet, justices of the Supreme Court, and members of the Congressional leadership.

The menu for the lunch features classic American foods with contemporary twists. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), chair of the hosting committee, said this of the menu in a statement:

Agriculture has always played a starring role in American culture and has been at the heart of our cuisine since the birth of our nation. This Inaugural luncheon menu incorporates foods that the first Americans enjoyed, but with a modern, forward looking approach. I’m confident that Democrats, Republicans, and representatives from all three branches alike will enjoy these incredible dishes from all corners of our nation.

Among the reactions to the menu, the French Champagne Bureau has once again voiced their objection to the press statements which describe Korbel’s California Champagne as champagne. A mainstay of inaugural receptions now for at least eight inaugurations, “Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne, California” will be served with the dessert course in keeping with the theme of having all-American foods. The Bureau insists that only sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France may be classified as Champagne.

For those unable to get a coveted invitation to the three-course lunch, the committee has posted recipes along with the menu:

Personally, this is not a lunch I could really afford to put together for an inauguration-watching party with my friends. I like the ideas, the commitment to American ingredients, and the playfulness of the menu (e.g. Clam Chowder sauce), which is fitting an event of this caliber. Even though I won’t be recreating the whole lunch, several of the recipes look enticing, including the strawberry preserve red cabbage which seems like a super smart alternative to apples.

What are your thoughts on the Inaugural Lunch menu?

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