There’s a little less formality at a “Kids’ State Dinner” than there is at the regular ones, and the unexpected guest who dropped by Tuesday afternoon quickly took note.

“Michelle never said to me I can just pick up something with my fingers at a state dinner,” President Obama said in mock surprise, after he heard the first lady urge her young guests not to worry too much about table manners.

“We’re not starting that,” she chided him.

“That’s not fair,” he sighed.

For her second “Kids’ State Dinner,” Michelle Obama hosted 54 kids (plus parents) who won her Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recipe contest. (“Kale Broccoli Chicken and Apple Salad”, anyone?) Her husband, whose drop-by wasn’t officially scheduled, only slightly undermined her message, copping to being a mediocre cook who loathed veggies as a kid.

“My family when they cooked vegetables, they would just boil them and they’d get all soft and mushy,” Obama recalled. “Nobody wanted to eat a pea or a Brussels sprout because they’d be all mushy.” The president shifted gears before venturing into more controversial territory, like George H.W. Bush’s “I do not like broccoli” confessional of 1990.

“But now I actually like vegetables,” Obama said, “because they’re prepared right.”