What’s For Dinner? White House Readies State Dinner In Merkel’s Honor

Jun 7, 2011 5:34pm

ABC News' Mary Bruce reports: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s day at the White House started with a red carpet roll out and a bang – really, a 19-gun salute. Tonight, the royal treatment will continue as the president and first lady host an official State Dinner under the stars in Merkel’s honor. The black-tie dinner will be held al fresco in the Rose Garden just outside the West Wing and Oval Office, a rare venue for such an occasion, and will be replete with German touches. The décor, for example, will have a “clean austere feel” and embrace the German Bauhaus school of design, according to the program released by the White House. The Rose Garden lawn will be carpeted in stripes of white and grey and tables will be adorned with white and silver linens. The architecture of the White House will be used as a canvas for the projection of photos, including images of flowers found in the Rose Garden. Floral arrangement of yellow calla lilies, green viburnum and ruffled asplenium leaves will complete the look. Those lucky enough to have an invitation will enjoy a “Spring Harvest Dinner” served on the Bush china which will include vegetables and herbs grown just steps away on the White House South Lawn in the first lady’s garden. The feast begins with a “cornucopia of spring harvest” also known as the “White House Garden Chopped Salad,” followed by Hawaiian tuna tartare with rye crisps, spring pea salad, and shaved ham and ginger snaps. For the main event, the White House will serve petite filet and Maryland crab ravioli with a wild ramp puree. In an ode to Merkel’s homeland, dessert will be an apple strudel with raisins and farmers cheese, with an American twist. The apples are from Maryland, the raisins are Californian and the cheese is from Vermont. During the State Dinner, Obama will present Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civil award of the United States Government. At today’s joint press conference, Obama said the award is “a recognition of the Chancellor’s remarkable career.” “I think not only has she been an excellent steward of the German economy and the European project, but she represents the unification of Europe through her own life story, and the capacity to overcome the past and point towards a brighter future,” Obama said.  “So the extraordinary work that she's already done I think would by itself merit the Medal of Freedom.  Fortunately, she's going to be around quite a bit longer, and so she's going to be doing outstanding work in the future,” he added. Following dinner, guests will be serenaded by legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor and the National Symphony Orchestra, including a piano solo by 15-year-old George Li. Today marks Merkel’s sixth visit to the U.S. during the Obama presidency and the first "Official Visit" for a European leader. Merkel’s visit is termed an “Official” rather than a “State Visit” because she is Germany’s head of government. The largely ceremonial head of State position is held by President Christian Wulff. Why a “State Dinner” if Merkel is not the official head of State? “Officially it’s an official visit, with a State Dinner,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained in Monday’s briefing. “We’re just awfully glad that she’s coming as head of government.” — Mary Bruce

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