Tent, tables ready for the White House state dinner for France

WASHINGTON (AP) – With the tents and tables set for Thursday’s big state dinner at the White House, host Jill Biden took her French counterpart and fellow teacher on a field trip to a museum of languages ​​to mark the their mutual interest in learning and their growing friendship.

“We are friends,” said Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, as she and Biden shook hands at Planet Word, a museum dedicated to words and language.

“We are friends,” Biden repeated before they again said they were friends.

The declaration of friendship suited the occasion. A state dinner is a high diplomatic honor, which the United States bestows only on its closest allies, such as France, one of America’s oldest.

Biden and Brigitte Macron made their field trip as President Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron held talks at the White House.

More than 300 invited guests reportedly began arriving at the White House as the sun began to set, dressed to impress and eager to say they played a small part in history: the first state dinner hosted by the Bidens.

Buttered Maine lobster, beef with scallion jam and American cheeses are on the red-white-blue themed dinner menu. Dessert is an orange chiffon cake with toasted pears and crème fraiche ice cream. American sparkling wine will be served for toasts.

“The design of this dinner was inspired by the shared colors of our flags, red white and blue, and our common values, freedom and democracy, equality and brotherhood,” Jill Biden said Wednesday. “These form the foundation upon which our enduring friendship has been built.”

The lavish party celebrating French-American relations is held in a heated pavilion on South Lawn. Guests will descend from the White House on trolleys and be seated at a mix of square and rectangular tables with navy silk tablecloths, red candles, and arrangements of red, white, and blue flowers, including white irises, the official flower of France.

Rented dinnerware is used because place settings from the White House China Collection are not allowed to leave the executive mansion.

White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford said 200 live Maine lobsters were delivered on Tuesday. Some conservation groups are calling out the White House for serving Maine lobster, citing concerns about the threat to rare North Atlantic right whales from the fishing gear used to snare lobsters. Entangling in gear is one of the biggest threats to whales.

The White House did not make immediate comments on environmental concerns.

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