Friday, November 20, 2009

President Obama In South Korea 2009: The Luncheon Menu...And Other Fun Details

President Obama gains weight in Asia, and Mrs. Obama magically appears for lunch in South Korea...
President Obama attended a closed-press luncheon in the Republic of Korea with President Lee Myung-bak and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok during his visit to Seoul on Nov. 19.  But Korean media is reporting that First Lady Michelle Obama also attended the lunch at Cheong Wa Dae, The Blue House that is the official residence and seat of government.  Mrs. Obama did not accompany her husband on the trip, but was in the US the entire time President Obama was in Asia.

Perhaps local media enthusiasm is to be excused--there was a massive welcoming ceremony when President Obama arrived in Seoul, and during lunch, he was goofing around a little bit--which was captured in the photo, above, taken in the banquet room. President Lee had just presented President Obama with a Taekwondo outfit, including an honorary black belt, as a memento of his visit; the President learned the martial art as a younger man. Lee also handed over a gift for Mrs. Obama: A book of Korean recipes, because everyone knows she's a cooking enthusiast, apparently.

On the menu...
The luncheon menu is below, verbatim, from Korean media--because it includes excellent "insidery" details, including the fact that President Obama gained wight on his trip. Actually, the reverse is true--so much so that during his trip, President Obama had to answer questions about weight loss from NBC and CBS, and explain that his weight fluctuates by five pounds.

Here's the (possibly) fictitious Korean luncheon menu:

Some of the notable dishes were sinseollo, bulgogi, marinated grilled beef; bibimbap, a rice dish with assorted vegetables and beef; japchae, glass noodles with assorted vegetables; and dubu-bugeotang, a dried pollack soup with tofu. Sinseollo, also known as Korean Royal Pot, is one of the most colorful Korean dishes, containing pan-fried beef, kimchi, shrimp pancakes, king trumpet mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms among other things. The dish was initially not considered due to possible complications while serving and eating, but the First Lady insisted, saying there's nothing like a good hot soup in a cold weather.

A total of six basic side dishes accompanied the main dishes; kimchi, water kimchi, assorted spinach, tangpyeongchae (mung bean jelly mixed with vegetables and beef), jangjorim (beef boiled in soysauce with egg) and dashima-toegak (dried kelp fried).
Obama, for his part, showed how comfortable he was with chopsticks and repeatedly complimented the dishes served as “delicious.” When he commented that he is gaining weight due to the many Asian delicacies he has enjoyed on this trip at previous summits in China, Japan and now in Korea – Lee assured him that Korean dishes are low in calories. Spinach was included as it is known to be the favorite side dish of US Ambassador to Korea, Kathleen Stevens.

The Stevens detail is excellent, too. The Ambassador was at the welcoming ceremony....

Related Obama in Asia Posts: The State Dinner for President Obama in China is here; another Beijing Banquet is here; Obama Egg Art in China is here; birthday party on Air Force One is here; President Obama attends climate change breakfast; President Obama has dinner with President Hatoyama in Japan is here; President Obama attends APEC Gala Dinner, speaks in Japan; Braided Danish for ASEAN-US Leaders photo; Japanese Obama foodie homage. 

*Getty photo.