The Elegant Menu Behind The Bidens' Dinner With The Macrons

Welcoming foreign heads of state to the White House with an elegant dinner has been a long-standing tradition. In 2009, famed chef Marcus Samuelsson served his signature short ribs for the state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama with guest Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In 1987, during the Reagan administration, an orange surprise dessert was served to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, according to Foreign Policy

According to the White House Historical Association, a state dinner is an opportunity for the American president to show "goodwill and hospitality" and to help prepare the setting for a more formal discussion between the president and the foreign head of state. State dinners have been hosted by American presidents for almost 150 years, with President Ulysses Grant organizing the first one in 1874. The size and scope of the dinners grew under President Theodore Roosevelt who expanded the State Dining Room in 1902.

While the president may be the head of state, it is part of the first lady's duties to organize a state dinner and to plan the meal and decorations with the help of the chief usher, executive chef, and wine usher. And in first lady Jill Biden's own words, the December 1 state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, will serve as a "way to connect through a language that transcends words," according to The Washington Post.

A meal fit for presidents

The December 1 state dinner will be an elegant affair with a menu that includes butter-poached lobster and Ostera caviar, reports The Washington Post. The choice of lobsters from Maine is not without controversy, according to a Fox News story, which cited a tweet from Maine Representative Jared Golden criticizing the president, saying his administration's regulations are harming the lobster industry.

The 200 live Maine lobsters will be served as the special dinner's first course, followed by a Coulotte of Beef entrée with micro carrots and Brussels sprouts, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The steak has been sourced from farmers in Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, said White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford.

To drink, the Bidens and Macrons, as well as other 300 to 400 guests, will be offered American sparkling wine from French-forged champagne vessels. The cheese course will include Rogue River blue cheese that has been wrapped in grape leaves. What makes this course even more special is that the honey accompanying it was collected from the hive in the White House garden that former first lady Michelle Obama started.

For dessert, crème fraîche ice cream will accompany an orange chiffon cake with roasted pears and citrus sauce. And to represent the coming together of the French president and American president, flags representing both countries will be placed on the cakes.