Luncheon Menu Announced by Inaugural Committee

Posted January 9, 2009 at 2:26pm

On Inauguration Day, Congressional leaders will sit down to a lunch of seafood stew, pheasant and sponge cake with the new president and vice president.

The Inaugural Luncheon is a century-old tradition, bringing together government leaders for a formal meal inside the Capitol.

In Statuary Hall, the new Cabinet, the Supreme Court and the Congressional leadership celebrate the first day of the new presidency with a three-course meal and a musical performance.

The menu and atmosphere changes depending on the inauguration’s theme. This year, it’s all related to former President Abraham Lincoln, whose words, “A New Birth of Freedom,” inspired the 2009 inauguration theme.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced the luncheon’s menu Friday.

“Growing up in the frontier regions of Kentucky and Indiana, the sixteenth President favored simple foods including root vegetables and wild game,” reads the release. “As his tastes matured, he became fond of stewed and scalloped oysters. For dessert or a snack, nothing pleased him more than a fresh apple or an apple cake.”

Design Cuisine, a Virginia-based catering company, has tied it all into their menu. For the first course, guests will have seafood stew. The second is a “Brace of American Birds (pheasant and duck), served with Sour Cherry Chutney and Molasses Sweet Potatoes.” And dessert will be an apple cinnamon sponge cake and sweet cream glacé.

Each dish will get a new glass of wine, all from California, the home state of the inaugural committee chairman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D).

The luncheon also includes all the accouterments of a formal dinner. The Smithsonian Chamber Players will provide the music, while guests will eat off replicas of the china from the Lincoln presidency.

In the background, Thomas Hill’s painting, “View of the Yosemite Valley,” will represent Lincoln’s signing of the Yosemite Grant, which made Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias a public reserve.

And, of course, everyone will get gifts — crystal bowls for President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden, and crystal vases for about 200 guests.