Monday, January 12, 2009

Eating Like Abe

On Inauguration Day, Barry and Michelle will not only attend glittery gala balls all over Washington DC, including one for "wounded warriors" and "families of fallen heroes" (won't that be a jolly holiday?). But even better, the new President (and maybe even his family) gets to eat too--and not just a cold-cut platter (like they served at Bush's first inaugural), but a gourmet sit-down meal. In fact, Fosco has heard that Oprah offered to release her former chef, Art Smith, from her massive underground containment facility to prepare the meal for Obama and his guests; however, this offer was politely declined.

The menu still sounds good though. As you may have heard, the inspiration for Obama's inaugural is Abraham Lincoln. The official theme is something like "Lincoln 2: Die Harder" (honestly, Fosco wasn't paying that much attention). Apparently, the Inaugural Dinner will also participate in the Lincoln theme, with dishes "modeled after foods that Lincoln ate and enjoyed."

Fosco likes this idea quite a bit. He's actually a little interested in historical cooking (recreating historical food preparations, but without all the salmonella and maggots and all). Once Fosco even tried to recreate a Boeuf en Daube described by Virginia Woolf in To the Lighthouse. The results were a tad disappointing, but it was a fun experience.

Unfortunately, the Lincolnism of the Inaugural Dinner is a bit weaker than seems appropriate. As the naughtily-named Jake Tapper reports,

The luncheon's appetizer will be seafood stew in puff pastry -- scallops, shrimp, lobster -- served as a nod to the 16th president's love of stewed and scalloped oysters.

The main course -- duck breast with sour-cherry chutney and herb-roasted pheasant served with molasses sweet potatoes and winter vegetables -- is a nod to the root vegetables and wild game that Mr. Lincoln favored growing up on the frontier in Kentucky and Indiana.

The apple cinnamon sponge cake dessert is a nod to Mr. Lincoln's love of apples and apple cake.
You can find the full menu (with wine pairings) here. I guess the apple cake dessert makes some Lincoln-y sense, but the appetizer is certainly a stretch, no? A seafood stew filled with scallops and lobster is not quite the same thing as scalloped oysters. I guess both dishes share an origin in the sea; but then again, so do salmon and sea lion (and I only want to eat one of those on a bagel). As for basing the main course on Lincoln's childhood dinners of wild game and root vegetables, well it seems a little vague, doesn't it? In a way, this whole menus is a bit like saying: "Lincoln was known to eat food and thus we shall serve food." I suppose we can expect Obama to wear clothes to his Inauguration, much in the way that Lincoln was known to wear clothes.

Fosco was thinking it might be fun to try to cook the Inaugural menu and invite some friends over to celebrate. Luckily, the recipes are provided. It seemed like a good idea, of course, until line one of the first recipe:
6 (1 Lb) Maine lobsters
Hmmm. That's already $108 (plus tax) and we haven't even bought the scallops (twenty of them!) yet. Do you think Fosco could just serve Baloney Canapés?

No comments: