Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Luncheon

President Barack Obama started his presidency with a lunch honoring Abraham Lincoln’s favorite foods and traditional poultry. The menu included duck and pheasant, accompanied by wines from wineries with duck-related names. Is this a great year for poultry, or what?

Since 1953, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has hosted the Inaugural Luncheon. Previously, starting in the mid-19th century, the outgoing President and the First Lady invited the new First Couple to lunch at the White House. After a leisurely lunch, they would adjourn to a viewing stand outside the White House to watch the parade. In 1897, the luncheon was hosted by the Senate Committee on Arrangements for President McKinley and several guests at the U.S. Capitol. Over the years, the parade got longer, but it had to wait for the honored guests to finish their lunch before the parade could start. Event organizers tried to find ways to speed up the lunch and get the parade started earlier.

In 1897, they tried persuading President McKinley to leave the Capitol after being sworn in and go directly to the viewing stand, where they could have lunch. McKinley and his guests preferred to dine in the Capitol, hosted by the Senate Committee on Arrangements. In 1901, McKinley again lunched at the Capitol, and the parade delays continued. In 1905, Teddy Roosevelt moved the luncheon back to the White House. The organizers hoped that the parade could start earlier. They finally tried to shorten the parade instead.

The inaugural luncheons gained momentum as the years passed. In 1945, President and Mrs. Roosevelt invited over two thousand guests to what would be the last White House inaugural luncheon. In 1949, Secretary of the Senate Leslie Biffle was the host for President Truman and his guests in his Capitol reception room. Another American bird, South Carolina turkey, was the centerpiece of that meal. Smithfield Ham and potato salad were also served, followed by pumpkin pie for dessert.

In 1953, the JCCIC took on the event, again placing poultry again at the center of the menu. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, his wife Mamie, and fifty guests enjoyed creamed chicken, baked ham, and potato puffs in the restored Old Senate Chamber.

Today’s luncheon was held in the Statuary Hall in the Capitol. The menu for the three-course meal started with Seafood Stew: scallops, shrimp and lobster topped with a puff pastry. The first wine served was a 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley’s Duckhorn Vineyards, http://www.duckhorn.com/home.php. That poultry-related name actually plays on the name of its founders, Dan and Margaret Duckhorn. The winery comprises three small winery estates, selling wines under the names Paraduxx and Goldeneye as well. The wines feature silhouettes of flying ducks on their labels.

The main course was “A brace (meaning, a pair of like things) of American birds:” Duck breast with sour cherry chutney, http://tinyurl.com/7npz4b, and Herb roasted pheasant with wild rice stuffing, http://tinyurl.com/86cf5a. The recipes posted at these links do not specify what kind of duck was used, but more than 90 percent of the duck sold in the U.S. is Peking duck raised in the Midwest. Muscovy duck is available locally and many prefer it. It can be a good choice for small producers. Muscovies are also excellent egg layers. These birds belong to Harvey Ussery of The Modern Homestead, http://www.themodernhomestead.us/.

Pheasant, although not native to the U.S., has become so well established that many assume that it is. Pheasant can also be a successful bird for small producers. This photo belongs to South Dakota Birds and Birding, http://sdakotabirds.com/.

The entrée was served with Molasses whipped sweet potatoes and Winter vegetables. Accompanied by Goldeneye, 2005 Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley.

My next book, How to Raise Poultry, includes ducks, pheasants and other domestic poultry. It will be available in April.
Dining on poultry is certainly an auspicious beginning for the Obama administration. We look forward to great things.


Steven Walling said...

I'm really glad you're writing this blog, I bought your last book and enjoyed it thoroughly.

However, I'd like to offer one small blogging tip: rather than add the full web address of a link just after naming the subject, you should make the words related to the linked website in to the link itself (i.e. the name of the vineyard links to their site, etc.)

This vastly reduces visual clutter, making your piece easier to read.

Christine said...

Thanks, Steven. I'm making my way slowly into technology and haven't quite mastered that yet. It does look much better that way. Any tips to help me?