First Lady on the one-year anniversary of Let's Move!; President's smoking habit; livestock at the White House; fashion choices for gardening...With the menu...
First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a luncheon today for her print press corps, as part of the one year anniversary celebration of the Let's Move! campaign. ObFo and nine other reporters participated in a round table discussion with the First Lady about all elements of the campaign, as well as other hot topics of the last twelve months. Members of Mrs. Obama's East Wing team also attended the luncheon, which was held in the Old Family Dining Room, and featured honey from the White House Bee Hive and greens from Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden. (Above: Mrs. Obama arrives at the lunch with her Communications Director, Kristin Schacke)
This is only the fourth time in two years that Mrs. Obama has sat down with the print reporters who regularly cover her. From the White House, Chief of Staff Tina Tchen; Communications Director Kristina Schake; Press Secretary Catherine McCormick Lelyveld; Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes; Let's Move! Executive Director Robin Schepper, and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass were all on hand to discuss the very busy Let's Move! year. (A photo of the luncheon menu, above; click it and it blows up to be readable)
The headline-maker by the end of the hour-long luncheon, thanks to a reporter emailing the info mid-bite to her news outlet: President Obama has quit smoking for "almost a year," Mrs. Obama said.
"I’m very proud of him," Mrs. Obama said, but added she wasn't quite sure how the President had done it. "When somebody is doing the right thing, you don't mess with them."
Also discussed: The White House Super Bowl menu; Valentine's Day; Mrs. Obama as a fashion icon; her attendance at church; and who she's voting for in the Chicago elections. Mrs. Obama's policy comments about Let's Move! are in this post.
Lunch was served on Truman China. Kass explained the three-course menu: The salad contained greens (mizuna, two kinds of lettuce, arugula and herbs) picked from Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden yesterday, as well as " last summer harvest" peppers pickled by Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford.
"And there are also some grilled onions, but those are not -- we cannot claim those, nor can we claim the feta cheese," Kass said. "We’re not making feta."
"We’re going to have cows!" Mrs. Obama said, to laughter. "Just kidding. It’s a big announcement. Chickens on the South Lawn!"
Kass shook his head, laughing. "No, no," he said.
Entrees were Rockfish or Lamb; the First Lady selected the lamb, which was prepared rare. She declined the white wine that was being poured, saying that although wine is fine at lunch, she had too much to do today.
The First Lady's actual "big announcement" is that Let's Move! will have a focus on early childhood interventions for obesity during Year Two; more on that in an upcoming post. And the campaign will be substantially built out.
"In year two, it's about more of the same, but doing more," Mrs. Obama said. "We want more corporations, more partnerships, more parents and churches...just keeping sounding the alarm and encouraging all sectors on how they can get involved."
>In this post, America's foremost nutrition expert, two historians, and members of Mrs. Obama's team weigh in on the campaign at the one-year mark.
Winter "White House Garden" greens
Last summer harvest pickle peppers
Grilled Sweet Onion
Feta Cheese with Herb Vinaigrette
Fresh Pan-roasted Rockfish
Artichoke Barigoule, Pearl Onions
Seared Rack of Lamb
New Potato Confit, Glazed Celery Hearts and Pan Jus
Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
Key Lime Tart
Warm blueberry and White House Honey Sauce
Hestan Chardonnay "San Francisco Bay" 2007
Hestan is a family-owned vineyard run by Stanley and Helen Cheng in Napa Valley, California.
(Top: The Rockfish; second photo is the Lamb)
First Lady's fashion philosophy: What's good in a garden?
Mrs. Obama was seated at the center of the table, which had three floral arrangements in low gold china "baskets," with a combination of greens, and mauve and pink blooms, including roses and freesia. A fire crackled in the fireplace. The First Lady was clad in a Marc Jacobs dress, which combined a sleeveless silvery purple silk top and a black and silver brocade skirt with an exposed zipper up the back, and shiny metallic silver heels. A statement broach of large purple stones was pinned to the blouse, and she wore a large gold chain link bracelet.
Mrs. Obama announced that her dress was a Jacobs creation.
"And a lot of times I don't even know," Mrs. Obama said, adding that while she likes to patronize American designers, "I don't buy a designer, I buy a dress."
Mrs. Obama added that she buys clothes largely based on what she has to do; on the weather ("is it freezing?"); if she likes the color, and she generally doesn't consider "the message" she's sending.
"I don't really care whose it is," Mrs. Obama said. "If I’m walking in a garden...I want shoes I can walk in a garden in and not have to worry about the fact that I can’t walk in the garden and see what the kids are doing because my shoes aren’t the right [ones]. And if I’m going to a school, if I want to get down on my knees and hug some kids, I don't want to be in something that's going to keep me from doing that."
"This is my philosophy," Mrs. Obama said, when pressed. "I hope that women learn to wear what they love because that -- I think that's one of the hardest things as women is that you're always trying to catch up to somebody else’s vision of who you should be. And that's hard. It’s hard on us."
"Buy it because it makes you happy, and you feel good in it," Mrs. Obama advised.
She added that she still works with Ikram Goldman of Chicago, her long-time source for clothing. And Meredith Koop, a White House aide, has been helping from "day one," Mrs. Obama said. Koop is not a "shadow stylist," which was recently suggested in the media.
"I hope that in the year to come I provide you with more interesting things to talk about other than my dress," Mrs. Obama said at the end of the luncheon.
After lunch, both Mrs. Obama and Kass participated in a series of conference calls with Let's Move! supporters.
ObFo was at the Feb. 9, 2010 White House launch of Let's Move!, and here's a personal essay about the event, written when the campaign hit the six-month milestone. (At left: Mrs. Obama launching the campaign)
*Top photo & lamb by Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief for Chicago Sun-Times; Rockfish by Chuck Kennedy/White House; others by ObamaFoodorama