It was a bit unnerving at first. I could neither move left nor right. Pressed up against the back of some random guy’s puffy jacket gave me an entirely new outlook on the concept of, “personal space.”
However, despite feelings of claustrophobia, I was there, experiencing history. Hearing Obama give his Inaugural address with the Capitol building in sight was stunning. The diverse crowd around me was reverent and silent, everyone focused on the words that Obama spoke. Afterwards, we raised our flags high and cheered.
It’s unifying moments such as this that make me appreciate being an American. Where else in the world could this kind of peaceful, “quadrennial renewal of democracy” happen? (This article from the Washington Post takes a closer look at my point).
The only part of the day I wished I could have experienced was the Inauguration Luncheon, which took place after the ceremony. I posted the menu in a previous post, but here it is again:
First Course: Steamed lobster with New England clam chowder sauce, served on sauteed spinach with sweet potato hay.
Second Course: Hickory grilled bison with wild huckleberry reduction, strawberry preserve and red cabbage, red potato horseradish cake, baby golden beets and green beans and butternut squash purée.
Third Course: Hudson Valley apple pie with sour cream ice cream and maple caramel sauce. Aged cheeses and honey.
Design Cuisine, the catering company behind the meal, created the menu using ingredients that reflect America’s agricultural history. According to an article from Today.com, South Dakota farmed the bison, Maine caught the lobster and Virginia provided all of the vegetables. I wished I could have been there to taste every dish that was served (although I heard Obama spent more time talking to guests than eating!).
Inspired by the day’s events, I decided to create my own Inauguration-inspired menu:
Bison burger with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms
Luckily, I had bison burgers in my freezer (a little more in my price range than steaks!). As for the toppings, I’m not sure how “American” cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms are, but they sure do taste good.
Oven-roasted sweet potatoes
The sweet potato “hay” on this year’s menu caught my eye. Native Americans relied on the sweet potato as a staple crop, making it an important part of our country’s agricultural past. I sliced sweet potatoes thinly and tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper. I laid the sweet potatoes flat on a sheet tray and roasted them at 400 degrees until cooked through. The higher temperature helps them crisp and get a little color, too.
Green beans, toasted almonds, chopped tomatoes
Using what I had in my apartment, I created my own version of the green bean dish on this year’s menu. I blanched the beans first and then sautéed them with chopped tomatoes to add some acid and toasted almonds to add texture.
And, there you go – a simple, but delicious meal to conclude a memorable day. The only thing missing? A pint of Obama’s White House Honey Ale.