Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
"You know, Idaho is sheep country," said Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) following dinner Thursday at the Moroccan Embassy, "but I'm here to tell you, you don't get lamb served this succulently in Idaho."
The roast spring lamb garnished with platter in the center of the table. Uncut. Which left some guests, like former "What's My Line?" moderator John Daly, wondering just how it should be eaten.
"Somebody better show us what to do now," said Daly, who along with the others finally opted to dig in with his fingers from the communal platter. "My last anatomy class was 50 years ago, " he quipped.
The dinner, said ambassador Ali Bengelloun, was simply "to honor my friend, Frank," whom, he said, he had known since the Kennedy days. And indeed it was a gathering of friends, many of whom greeted Church with congratulations on his decision to vote against President Carter's Middle East arms package.
"No, no, no, there were no repercussions from the White House," said Church. "The president called me shortly after the vote and said he knew I had taken my position on the basis of my own convictions."
The evening began with cocktails in the drawing room before guests were seated in the Moroccan Room, where they sat at tables covered with fruit-patterned tablecloths and decorated with centerpieces of grapefruits oranges, apples and pineapples. The tables came only knee high because folding chairs were substituted for the traditional cushions used for Moroccan-style dinner.
Dinner began with pigeon pie, and was followed by the roast spring lamb, cous-cous and raspberries and whipped cream.
A big topic of conversation was remarks attributed to presidential assistant Hamilton Jordan earlier this week. National Public Radio reported Monday that Jordan had described the administration's Mideast arms package deal as an attempt to "break the back" of the Israeli lobby.
NPR president Frank Mankiewicz said Thursday that White House press secretary Jody Powell had called him Tuesday requesting the reporter recheck the source because Jordan's log showed he could not have said it. Mankiewicz said the reporter had done so and had come up with three other sources.
Another guest, Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus, said, "I don't accept that statement as having come from the lips of Hamilton Jordan. I've been in many, many meetings where Jordan is present - and some of them have been pretty heavy - but I have never seen the cavalier attitude everyone talks about come from Hamilton. He's a real pro as far as I'm concerned."