Obama’s Field Trip with Hollande: Viva Les French (Freedom) Fries

Photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

President Barack Obama meets with French President Francois Hollande, on May 18, 2012, in the Oval Office.

How far Washington has come from those freedom fries.

When French President Francois Hollande arrives in Washington for a (rare in this administration) State Dinner at the White House next week, his host has a field trip planned.

President Barack Obama plans to take Hollande to Monticello, the Virginia residence — turned museum — of Thomas Jefferson. They will travel Monday, the day before Obama hosts Hollande for that dinner at the White House.

When former French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited former U.S. President George W. Bush, the American brought the Frenchman to Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington — turned museum.

All is forgiven, it seems, since those days when the French refused to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq — which prompted protestors at the Capitol to rename the French fries served in the cafeteria.

“Since the time of our founding fathers, the United States and France have been allies and friends,” the White House press secretary said this evening in announcing Monday’s trip. “As the residence of Thomas Jefferson, one of the United States’ earliest envoys to France, Monticello reflects Jefferson’s affection for the people of France, the long-standing relations between our two democracies, and the shared values we hold dear:  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

And French fries.

Hollande came to the U.S. as a younger man to study the fast-food business — hold the Hollandaise sauce. And when Obama first met Hollande during the Frenchman’s first visit to the White House in May 2012, en route to a NATO summit in Chicago, the host was offering some guidance in American cuisine that would be on display in his own home town.

“I just want to remember that cheeseburgers go very well with French fries,” Obama said then.

And see Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev and Stephanie Green reporting on that dinner at the “no-drama” White House, where Hollande will arrive “stag.”

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