Tuesday, January 25, 2011

President Obama Gives Salmon A Shout Out In State Of The Union Address

The President notes byzantine fed regs for a favorite American fish...& a look at the salmon dishes served at White House events...
Salmon has been featured on the menus for many high-profile White House events hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and tonight, during his State of the Union Address, "Winning The Future," the President gave the popular finned food a jokey shout out. (Above: A screenshot from the "enhanced livestream" of the President's address on the White House website, which featured graphics and photos of the President's concepts; inset is Mrs. Obama waving to the crowd)

Close to the end of his hour-long speech, President Obama discussed the need to slash spending and reduce bureaucratic duplication to make government "more competent and efficient," as just one way of, er, winning the future.

"We live and do business in the Information Age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black-and-white TV," President Obama said.

He added that 12 different agencies deal with exports, while at least five deal with housing, but the byzantine federal regulation of salmon takes the cake.

"Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in salt water," President Obama said.

"And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked," President Obama added, to big laughter from his audience in the House chamber.

Yes, the FDA becomes involved once salmon is out of the water and gets to the smoking stage, because it is then a processed food. And the Commerce Department part of the regulation includes NOAA: That agency is involved in testing if the salmon swims anywhere near, say, an exploded drilling rig that has leaked, say, millions of barrels of oil into the surrounding waters. The President also mentioned during his speech that government needs to stop "larding up," but by far the salmon reference was the winning foodie moment of the night. Pretty soon we'll be losing the future if salmon regulations don't get straightened out, right?

Salmon at the White House...
Happily, ObFo has not lost track of the salmon that's been served at the White House on a winning series of menus.

Dill and Vo
dka Scottish Smoked Salmon were served when the President and Mrs. Obama hosted a lovely Hanukkah Reception on December 3, 2010. In keeping with strict religious requirements, the salmon--and the White House kitchen--were certified kosher for the holiday event, and prepared under the strict rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Lubavitch Center of Washington. Sushi--yes, sushi--as well as lamb chops and filet of beef and chraming desserts were also served.

Salmon was served at many of the 17 other White House Holiday Receptions in 2010, too, but no one announced the exact poundage that was served overall. That's in contrast to Gulf shrimp and crab: 2,000 pounds of that was served during December, according to Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, who announced the figure at the start of the Holiday marathon.

During last summer's second annual Congressional Picnic, Taste of The States, held on June 09, 2010, President and Mrs. Obama welcomed hundreds of lawmakers and their families to the White House. The showstopping dish du jour was wild Alaskan Salmon fished from the Copper River. Guest chef Jason Stoller Smith of Oregon cooked the salmon, spiked onto saplings, over a 45-foot-long fire pit dug into the South Lawn, right outside the Oval Office. Other regional foods were featured, too, including Chicago Hot Dogs, but nothing could top the massive slabs of salmon being fresh-smoked right on the South Lawn. (Above: Stoller Smith in action with the salmon fire pit).

Salmon was also featured on the menu at Mrs. Obama's special Mother's Day Tea held on May 7, 2010, in the State Dining Room. Smoked Salmon on Blinis served with Chevre Creme Fraiche were featured among the dainty tea sandwiches and scones that were offered to guests, who included former First Lady Rosalynn Carter; Patricia Nixon Cox, daughter of President Richard M. Nixon; and Susan and Anne Eisenhower, granddaughters of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Honey from the White House Bee Hive was available in special pots on each table, too, to accompany the scones.

Salmon regulations may be mighty confusing, but the fish is still something of a White House staple....

Related: On Tuesday, as he prepped his speech, President Obama took a break to have a private White House lunch with TV anchors and pundits. During the Address, Mrs. Obama sat with Dr. Jill Biden and 24 special guests, including a pair of artisan ice cream entrepreneurs, Zachary Davis and Kendra Baker.

*Screenshot from White House video; second by Reuters