What President Obama Will Eat on Inauguration Day

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies reveals the Inaugural Luncheon menu


Details about what President Barack Obama will eat after he takes the oath of office at the 57th formal Presidential inaugural ceremony on Jan. 21, have been unveiled. The inaugural luncheon has been an Inauguration Day tradition for more than a century and Obama will feast on a patriotic three-course meal.

Members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, led by chairman Charles E. Schumer, are tasked with planning the sit-down lunch for 200 guests, which include the president, vice president, members of their families, the Supreme Court judges, Cabinet members, and Congressional leaders. For Obama’s second inauguration, the menu was created by members of the Joint Committee and catering company Design Cuisine, based in Arlington, Va.

Held in the Capitol Building’s National Statuary Hall, the luncheon will include food from across the country paired with wines from Schumer’s home state of New York and champagne from California.

"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," said Schumer. "This Inaugural luncheon menu incorporates foods that the first Americans enjoyed, but with a modern, forward looking approach."

The first course is steamed lobster with New England clam chowder sauce paired with Anthony Road Winery, Fox Run Vineyards, and Newt Red Cellars’ Tierce 2010 dry riesling from Finger Lakes, N.Y.

The main course is hickory grilled bison with wild huckleberry reduction and a red potato horseradish cake paired with a 2009 merlot from Bedell Cellars in North Fork, Long Island, N.Y.

Dessert is Hudson Valley apple pie served with sour cream ice cream, aged cheese, and honey, paired with Korbel Natural’s Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne from California.

The luncheon menu and the décor fits the inauguration’s theme of "Faith in America’s Future" with a meal made with American agricultural products that's served on tables adorned with geometric-patterned tablecloths and punctuated with apricot "Free Spirit" roses and orange ranunculus blossoms in silver cachepots designed by Jesse Bailey of Jack H. Lucky Floral Design in Alexandria, Va.. The head table will be draped in a lush cerulean velvet tablecloth and the historic Lincoln Table, an iron table made especially for Abraham Lincoln and used at his second inauguration on March 4, 1865, will hold the flags flown over the Capitol during the swearing-in ceremonies.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies will present the president and vice president of the United States with tall, tapering, hand-cut and etched Lenox crystal vases. Obama’s vase features an image of the White House and is engraved with his name and "January 21, 2013." Vice President Joe Biden’s vase features an image of the U.S. Capitol.

The Eastman String Quartet from the University of Rochester will perform an hourlong concert, including arrangements of Copland’s "Hoedown," the first and fourth movements of Dvorak’s "American Quartet," Scott Joplin’s "Country Club Rag," and "America the Beautiful." 

In 2009, not only was Obama sworn in using the Bible that was used to swear Lincoln in on Inauguration Day, but his luncheon was modeled after foods President Lincoln ate. The first course, seafood stew, was served on replicas of the china picked out by then-first lady Mary Todd Lincoln at the beginning of her husband’s term. The second course was brace of American duck with cherry chutney and roasted pheasant with wild rice stuffing, molasses sweet potatoes, and winter vegetables. Dessert was an apple cinnamon and sponge cake with sweet cream glacé.

Members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies are appointed by the vice president and the speaker of the house. In accordance with tradition, the Senate representatives are Majority Leader Harry Reid, Rules Committee Chairman Charles E. Schumer, and Rules Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander. The House members of JCCIC are Speaker John A. Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

This is the seventh time in U.S. history that the constitutionally mandated inauguration date of Jan. 20 has fallen on a Sunday.  The last time was for President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985. When this occurs, the public ceremonies traditionally are held on the following Monday, which this year coincides with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is the second time that this federal holiday has coincided with a Presidential Inauguration; the first was President Bill Clinton’s second inauguration in 1997.

Lauren Mack is the Special Projects Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.


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