The Duke and Duchess of York will see a lot of Los Angeles in the next several days. Also a considerable amount of salmon.
That's right, salmon. Salmon grilled and poached, served in large pieces and sliced, alone or with capers, naked or dressed in crusts and crepes. Salmon lunch, salmon dinner, salmon introducing whatever else is for lunch or dinner. American salmon and salmon of various ethnic and foreign origins.
The royal couple will, in fact, face salmon at just about every formal meal they consume here, according to the official menus, which have not been officially released.
Salmon, it seems, is safe on two counts. It is, according to popular belief, an "elegant" fish. And, in its various combinations, it meets the restrictions the palace puts on menus served to young Andrew and pregnant Fergie.
Forbidden foods include onions and garlic (not pleasant for greeting), shellfish (never on the road, since a bad crab would certainly crimp the schedule), nuts, avocados (there appears to have been a fear that California cuisine would be nothing but guacamole grande), melon--and there was a strong suggestion that the food served be "light."
Chicken would fit the bill, but, as one organizer said, "Chicken is chicken. Chicken is just not that exciting."
What's resulted is one formal meal after another featuring salmon. The opening lunch Saturday at City Hall features "Grilled Pacific Salmon," after a consomme with smoked quail and pastry crust. The morning ceremonies there also include a special performance by Los Lobos, which certainly means that hot music will be served up.
Sunday night, at the UK/LA Royal Gala, the salmon returns, crepinette of salmon and whitefish with champagne chervil sauce preceding the beef, veal and lamb that make up the main course. Accompanying the 900-person benefit evening at the Biltmore, hosted by Occidental's Dr. Armand Hammer and Arco's Lod Cook, will be entertainment by Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach. (They will do several numbers that the Duchess especially requested.)
Monday, at the KCET luncheon hosted by Bullocks Wilshire at the department store--salmon redux. This time it's poached salmon and English cucumbers.
Even when the British do their gracious about-face, and Consul General Donald and Elizabeth Ballentyne entertain at the Four Seasons on Monday evening, salmon sneaks in. There, hors d'ouevres will be passed "butler style," a fabulous selection of tidbits like lemon duck, Chinese potstickers, curried beef turnovers, and, ah, salmon and veal crustade (that means it's tucked into a loaf of bread).
Tuesday, when the young royals attend the luncheon sponsored by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Bel Age will be awash with tulips arranged in large crystal bowls. The head table will be covered with an overlay of dusty rose silk. And, for lunch, Dover sole--but wait, it's wrapped around Norwegian salmon.
That night, it's rather hectic. There is a private dinner for 24 in The Founders of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, preceding the largish reception for hundreds of members of the Blue Ribbon. Dinner will be a little quick--there are only 22 minutes scheduled for the meal. It starts with a salad of baby greens, followed by veal encroute , and finishes up with chocolates.
No salmon? Don't despair. Even though it won't be served at the private party, at the big reception they will indeed be carving salmon--along with smoked turkey, tortes of gorgonzola cheese, and, thank goodness, cucumber and watercress canapes.
Leave it to the clever county Chief of Protocol Sandra Ausman to come up not just with a change of pace, but also with a menu and a luncheon Wednesday that reflects what entertaining here is all about. Although no one would speak for the record, it is known that she has crafted an "elegant Southwestern style" luncheon (with not a trace of salmon) to be served in the Atrium of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Almost all of the heavy-hitter trustees and the five supervisors will be in attendence--and Ausman has lined up a list of local top volunteers to help host, a list that includes Betty Ann Keon, Phyllis Hennigan, Marilyn Lightner, Terri Childs, Nancy Peterson, Joan Weiss, Margaret La Buda and Arline Gluck. David Hockney will be there to show the duke and duchess through the exhibit of his works--and AT&T (really getting to be a constant art supporter) is underwriting the lunch.
Still very under wraps are the breakfast menus set for the royal couple, who will be staying on the Royal Yacht Britannia, docked in Long Beach. One can only hope that the breakfast fare does not include bagels, cream cheese and. . . .