First lady Michelle Obama hosted the significant others of foreign leaders who are visiting the United States for the Group of Eight summit for a tour and lunch Saturday at the White House while the leaders of the world’s biggest economies talked business elsewhere.
Along for the tour were Valerie Trierweiler of France (who wore a black wrap dress and black heels), Laureen Harper of Canada (who wore a navy floral dress), Hitomi Noda of Japan (who wore a heather gray business suit) and Elsa Antonioli Monti of Italy (who wore a black and white business suit). Geertrui Windels Van Rompuy, whose husband is president of the European Council, and Margarida Barroso, whose husband is president of the European Commission, were also along for the tour. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s husband, professor Joachim Sauer, did not attend.
Obama, wearing a deep purple dress with a floral brooch, led the tour group into the East Room and pointed out the window. “The South Lawn is like the backyard,” she said as the G-8 spouses looked outdoors. “You’ll get to see the garden after this. Bill, take it away.”
Before Bill Allman, the White House curator, began, Obama added that she recently did a sack race in the room with a television host. That would be Jimmy Fallon. Allman added that the room had been used by past presidents for roller skating (Presidents Garfield and Theodore Roosevelt and, later, the daughter of President Carter). And also used for wrestling (Theodore Roosevelt hosted a Chinese wrestling exhibition there).
Allman also pointed out French artifacts (what appeared to be golden candelabras in the East Room) and mentioned that Roosevelt enjoyed sumo wrestling. Noda nodded.
Allman then led the group, which followed silently, to a portrait of Martha Washington and one of George Washington. All of the guests appeared interested and moved in to look closely at the George Washington portrait when Allman pointed out that a word was misspelled on the leg of a table in the portrait (“States” is misspelled “sates”).
The tour concluded with lunch by chef Jose Andres, who prepared a meal using produce from the White House garden. (The lunch menu included gazpacho, Maryland rockfish with local asparagus, grapefruit, Virginia berries, greens and caramelized olive oil, and tangerine sorbet with Virginia strawberries.)
Saturday evening, the Obamas will leave for Chicago. There the first lady has invited the G-8 spouses to visit the Gary Comer Youth Center, which supports youths living on the South Side of Chicago, where she grew up. Following that tour, they will join the center’s youth members and faculty at a performance by the South Shore Dance Drill Team, the Chicago-based Muntu Dance Theater known for their African and African American dance, music and folklore performances and Soul Children of Chicago, which uses music to motivate and inspire young people.