Polish, Georgian and French food sat side by side, quite amicably, in the White House dining room last night.
Leaders of the Polish-American community, invited to a reception commemorating the Carter's visit to Poland in December, got to sample Rosalynn Carter's famous Plains Cheese Ring, renamed Cheddar Cheese Ring for the occasion, and some French pate along with dishes possibly more familiar to the guests - pirogi (cottage cheese dumplings) with sour cream and kielbasa (sausages), steak tartare and Polish sweets.
"It was Mrs. Carter's idea to add two or three things which they would appreciate," said social secretary Gretchen Poston. "So we got in touch with Congressman (Clement) Zablocki's office and he sent over his recipes."
Last week Poston and a Polish-American member of her staff, Barbara Block, had a taste-in of those recipes prepared by executive chef Henry Haller and the pastry chef, Heinz Bender. Block told Haller that his pirogi were better than her mother made.
Two of the sweets were particularly appropriate since today is Shrove Tuesday. The paczki, jelly-filled donuts, and chruscik, fried dough twists sprinkled with powdered sugar, are traditional pre-Lenten dishes in Poland.
The White House chefs had no trouble preparing the cookbook recipes without outside assistance. Zablocki had suggested that the White House "engage a local catering service to assist in the preparation of specialized pastry items . . ." but, said Bender, it was not necessary.
After all, Bender said, he had made ones like them dozens of times. "It's the same thing we have in Germany.They just have a different name."