WASHINGTON—Darting back and forth from refrigerator to sink to prep table while hurriedly preparing 350 hand-carved radish rosettes, a visibly agitated President Obama reported Friday that everything must be absolutely perfect for tonight’s state dinner in honor of Chinese president Xi Jinping. “I’ve got to have this duck confit ready for President Xi in just a few hours and I haven’t even finished applying the garlic rub yet,” Obama yelled from across the White House kitchen as he plated the prosciutto-stuffed mushroom appetizers before frantically dicing stalks of celery and sprinkling them over the green apple and walnut salad, and then tossing the peach cobblers into the oven. “Then we have poached salmon with Mousseline sauce for the third course and—my God, I forgot about the president’s seafood allergy!” At press time, a flustered Obama was using a piping bag to write the Chinese character for “friendship” on 150 tortes.

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