Mary J. Blige to perform at American-accented state dinner

The White House might be hosting the French for a state dinner on Tuesday, but the event looks to be quite l’affaire américaine.

On the menu are steak, salad, potatoes and ice cream; and for entertainment, an R&B singer from the Bronx.

Mary J. Blige is set to perform for the crowd of bold-facers, the White House announced on Monday. Alas, there will be no dancing, we learned on Monday afternoon during a preview of the festivities, a solution that neatly avoids complications brought on by the fact that the evening’s guest of honor, French President Francoise Hollande, is arriving solo (sans his longtime partner Valerie Trierweiler, after a messy scandal that surely has caused some sweat for the White House social staff.)

The menu offers only a few nods to the guest country. There’s American caviar to start (farm-raised, of course — it’s more politically correct), served with potato veloute (ah, there’s a French touch!) and crisp potatoes. That’s followed by a fanciful “Winter Garden Salad” inspired by the first lady’s vegetable patch, then a dry-aged rib-eye with a blue-cheese crisp, shallots, mushrooms, and braised chard. To finish, guests will be served a “chocolate malted cake” and ice cream from Pennsylvania.

Sounds like a menu fit not just for the highest-ranking man from the land of haute cuisine, but also, say, for the governor of Iowa.

(Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)
(Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)

The White House also released a list of the wines the guests will enjoy, unlike for previous dinners, where the vino was kept under wraps, after a particularly pricey bottle raised eyebrows.  Sips will include a Morlet “La Proportion Doree” 2011 from Napa Valley; a Chester-Kidder 2009 red blend from Columbia Valley; and a Thibaut-Jannison “Blanc de Chardonnay” from Monticello, Va.

Some things, though, are still hush-hush. How many guests? The White House isn’t saying. But here’s a clue: it’s too many to use one of the White House china sets. Instead, the guests will eat off rental plates.

More state dinner coverage from menu to Michelle Obama’s style–and everything in between. 

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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Emily Heil | February 10