Washington: The guessing game is on among presidential watchers of the gastronomic kind: What will be on the 'Obama Platter' that US President Barack Obama intends to create when he visits India next month?
Back in June, making a rare visit to the State Department for a reception for External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to demonstrate that US-India ties are among his "highest priorities", he also declared his culinary designs. "And I intend to create an Obama Platter," he declared.
"I am told one of Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton's favourite restaurants in Delhi has added a new item to the menu - the 'Hillary Platter,' he said. "This is true," he said turning to Clinton standing by his side and asked: "What does it have - chapati?"
"It's got all kinds of things," said an obviously delighted Clinton diplomatically to the president who can make a chapati and cook some dal, an art he learnt from a Pakistani college mate's mother on a visit to Karachi.
Clinton did not say that the 'Hillary Platter' she created July 19, 2009 at Delhi's famous Bukhara restaurant has much more than the chapati. The mouth-watering fare includes murgh malai kabab, seekh kabab, paneer tikka, tandoori aloo, sikandari raan, dal bukhara, tandoori jhinga, mixed raita, naan and kulfi.
But the presidential palate appears to be markedly different from the former first lady's. A year before he became president, Obama said in an interview that his favourite food is from Italian Fiesta Pizzeria in Hyde Park, Chicago.
During the campaign, he was often seen eating fast food - from donuts to pork chops to fried chicken. Days before being sworn in he went to popular Ben's Chili Bowl on Washington's U Street for a chilli half smoke and sweet tea, plus cheese fries.
And despite First Lady Michelle Obama's healthier eating campaign, the president has not stopped indulging in an occasional Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich, enjoying a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone or sneaking out for a burger lunch with Vice President Joe Biden.
So much so that last June, he even took visiting Russian President Dmitri Medvedev for a summit over an all American lunch at Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Virginia, a Washington suburb across the Potomac river.
For the "main course", Obama ate a cheddar cheeseburger, topped with lettuce, tomato and bread-and-butter pickles. He washed it all down with bottled iced tea.
So our guess is his creation could well be not a platter, but an "Obama malai tikka burger"!
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