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Everything you need to know about Trump’s first state dinner

Less than nine months after being wowed by the militaristic bravura of France’s Bastille Day celebrations, Donald Trump is set to serve up his own display of diplomatic pageantry on Tuesday when he hosts President Emmanuel Macron for his White House's first state dinner.

But despite the obsession with opulence and optics Trump embraced as a titan hotelier, the president and first lady Melania Trump opted for the more intimate venue of the State Dining Room, with a guest list close to 150.

The White House said the heavily choreographed affair has been managed almost exclusively by the famously reserved first lady, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying Monday that Melania Trump “has taken an active role in every detail in planning of the visit” — including the Tuesday dinner that will serve as the peak of two days of presidential pomp.

Here’s everything you need to know about the spectacle of a meal.


The guests of honor: Reciprocating Macron's July invitation to join him in Paris, Trump and the first lady will welcome the French leader and his wife, Brigitte Macron, for the administration's first state visit. After arriving in Washington on Monday afternoon, the two couples were due to plant a tree on the White House's South Lawn. The sapling, which the Macrons gifted to the Trumps, is a roughly 4.5-foot tall European Sessile Oak from France's Belleau Wood, where more than 9,000 American Marines died in a World War I battle in June 1918. On Monday evening, the couples were scheduled for a tour of various historic monuments via Marine One, ending at Mount Vernon for dinner at George Washington's iconic Virginia estate.

The Arrival Ceremony: Keeping with a military tradition dating back to the 17th century, President Trump and the first lady will take to the South Lawn on Tuesday morning to host the State Arrival Ceremony. Nearly 500 members of the U.S. Armed Forces from all five military branches will join the couple there for the time-honored “Review of the Troops.” Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, military families and students from the Maya Angelou French Immersion School in Temple Hills, Maryland, have also been invited to attend the ceremony.


The food: Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford is serving up a three-part spread of largely American cuisine, with hints of French influences. The first course, using greens from the White House kitchen garden to represent a celebration of spring’s first harvest, will feature a goat cheese gateau, tomato jam, buttermilk biscuit crumbles and young variegated lettuces. Then, on to the main course: a rack of spring lamb and a New Orleans-inspired Carolina gold rice jambalaya — scented with celery, peppers and onions, and spiced with herbs from the South Lawn. Finally, the denouement will come in the form of a nectarine tart dessert infused with White House honey and accompanied by crème fraîche ice cream. No word yet on whether President Trump will ask for two scoops.


The drinks: President Trump is known for abstaining from alcohol, but the French love their wine. The first lady has selected three varieties to underscore the nearly 250-year friendship between the United States and its Revolutionary War ally. The heads of state will sip on the Domaine Serene Chardonnay “Evenstad Reserve” 2015, concocted from a combination of French plants from the city of Dijon that thrive in Oregon’s volcanic soil. Guests will also taste the Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir “Laurène” 2014 — a red wine with the motto, “French soul–Oregon soil” — as well as the Schramsberg Demi-Sec “Crémant” 2014, which has made frequent appearances on many years of White House menus for official and ceremonial events.

The dinnerware: The first lady is sticking with two hues commonly associated with her husband’s personal brand — cream and gold — for the crockery’s color scheme. Pieces of china from the Clinton administration will serve as the baseplate for the table setting, and guests will dine on china collections from the Clinton and the George W. Bush White House during the meal. The green color palette of the Bush china is meant to complement the spring green and white flowers that will adorn the State Dining Room. Tuesday’s dinner will also feature pieces from the Vermeil collection and American Silver from the White House Collection furnished by Tiffany & Co. and S. Kirk & Sons.


The flowers: As guests traverse Cross Hall — the grand corridor on the first floor of the White House that bridges the East Room and the State Dining Room with 80 feet of red carpet — they’ll navigate past more than 1,200 branches of American-grown cherry blossom. The flora in the State Dining Room will be a bit less rosy, with more than 2,500 stems of white sweet peas and roughly 1,000 stems of white lilac — both California and Dutch grown mixed. In the White House’s parlors, attendees will find a variety of mixed garden flowers, as well as dark-green Stephanotis vines from California that generally produce small, star-shaped white flowers.

The entertainment: Guests will be treated to a performance by the Washington National Opera from the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.



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