Gulf seafood to star at White House holiday parties


From the White House to the Capitol on Wednesday, Washington’s political class was consuming lots of Gulf seafood.

White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford plans to serve more than 2,000 pounds of Gulf Coast shrimp and seafood during a series of holiday parties, which began Wednesday night with a reception for volunteers.

And both the White House Mess and Capitol eateries had Gulf seafood dishes such as seafood gumbo and barbecued shrimp on Wednesday’s menu.

The White House shrimp came from Venice, Comerford said.

“Since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, consumption of Gulf seafood has dropped, which is why we at the White House are so happy to play our part in reminding Americans that Gulf seafood is not only safe – but delicious,” Comerford said.

On her blog, Comerford included her recipe for Gulf Shrimp Cocktail, which she plans to serve in large quantities at the White House holiday parties.

On Monday, the guests will be members of Congress. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson plans to attend and consume large quantities of Gulf seafood.

“I challenge the president to a raw oyster-eating contest,” said Scalise, a regular Obama critic who hasn’t been invited to one of President Barack Obama’s preferred competitions – regular pick-up basketball games.

On the Senate side of the Capitol, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., served fellow Democrats bowls of seafood gumbo as both the House and Senate participated in Dine American/Dine Louisiana – a national event in which 290 chefs are showing their support for Gulf seafood with special dishes.

“I have grown up eating Gulf Coast seafood and to this day it is still my favorite thing to order when my family and I dine out,” Landrieu said. “That is why I am so proud to be a part of Dine America 2010. Together with hundreds of restaurants across the nation, we are helping to celebrate Louisiana seafood as the finest in the world.”

Efforts are expanding to promote Gulf seafood as safe despite the massive oil spill.

On Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, Plaquemines Parish volunteers served boiled shrimp, barbecued crabs, raw oysters and crab cakes in a tailgate before the Saints-Cowboys game.

“People will eat anything that’s free,” Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said. “If they like it, they’ll buy it. The best way to promote our seafood is to let people taste it.”

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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