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2013 Inauguration Menu

January 14, 2013

When it comes to great occasions of State like Presidential Inauguration festivities, food is not merely what's on your fork--it must also be symbolic, celebratory, and politically correct. So when official Washington f?tes President Obama's second Inauguration on January 21 with a locavore luncheon and a budget-minded night of two tightly ticketed Balls, Epicurious invites readers to skip the security clearance and cook up their own second-term celebration. A tour of Presidential terroir, our 2013 Inauguration Dinner menu begins with a Hawaii-inspired Mahi-Mahi Ceviche with Jalapenos and Coconut and moves onto the mainland with two of Obama's favorite foods in one dish, Seared Salmon on Baby Spinach. Red potatoes mashed with their skins on--a four-fork recipe that's quick to prepare--is a fitting tribute to Chicago and the heartland. And for dessert, it's back to the Aloha State for a winter-chasing Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Recalling official Inaugural parties past, "menus usually reflect culinary preferences of the President or First Lady by featuring some foods, dishes, or beverages from the President's family, home town, or state," explains Andrew F. Smith, the editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, newly published in its second edition. At FDR's second Inauguration, in 1937, Smith says, the menu included sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, a favorite of Eleanor Roosevelt's. Jimmy Carter, who had managed his family's Georgia peanut farms, chose to serve peanuts and pretzels at the deliberately modest Inaugural parties in recession-straitened 1977. "As the menus get visibility," Smith adds, "care is taken to avoid serving food that might cause a media backlash." On that note, we recommend choosing your mahi-mahi and salmon with guidance from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch. If making a multicourse meal on a weeknight feels like a reach, choose just a dish or two?each course in our menu will be delicious on its own or in any combination. And to cap things off, why not a patriotic splash of your favorite California sparkler? We'll be raising a glass not only to the President but to the memory of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday is observed on the same date this year. Photo: Richard Eskite

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