The Beautiful Dessert Jackie Kennedy Chose For Her Meeting With A Princess

When you are the First Lady of the United States, you do a lot of entertaining. Hosting elegant state dinners, luncheons, and afternoon tea are all part of the job. One First Lady who did so with the epitome of grace and style was Jaqueline Kennedy. As First Lady, Mrs. Kennedy brought a regal, sophisticated, yet down-to-earth elegance to the White House and to the many menus she planned. Vogue noted that when Mrs. Kennedy selected floral arrangements, she favored simple arrangements over the formal. Similarly, when she chose food items for her menus, she was price-conscious, choosing in-season options and taking into consideration the preferences of her guests. She also pared down the number of courses served from a daunting six to a manageable four. Our stomachs feel full and our jeans feel tight just imagining eating so much food and drinking so many beverages in one sitting.

But Jackie Kennedy really was the consummate hostess, and as The American Menu points out, she had a natural flair and propensity for all things French, including the cuisine she was drawn to. This is clearly evident when she hosted Prince Rainer and the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly for a luncheon at the White House on May 23, 1961. Working with her chef, Rene Verdon, Mrs. Kennedy chose a traditional French dessert, but with a modern twist that made it less heavy, and it definitely has us wishing we could have been invited.

Strawberries Romanoff fit for a Princess of Monaco

Jackie Kennedy served Princess Grace, who was also Hollywood royalty, Strawberries Ramonoff. Not Quite Nigella describes this dessert as strawberries that have been macerated with sugar and some type of French liqueur like Grand Marnier and topped with whipped cream. Verdon is said to have changed the recipe slightly by mixing the whipped cream with ice cream. The American Menu notes that Rene Verdon shared his memory of this luncheon in his book, The White House Chef Cookbook. Verdon recalled, "I designed this menu with a warm afternoon in mind. It was touching to learn that Princess Grace, in an interview...four years later, was able to recall exactly the dishes she had eaten at luncheon that day."

But is Strawberries Ramonoff really French? It is indeed. Epicurious observed that it was French Chef Escoffier who created this simple dessert at the Carlton Hotel in London; however, the name we know it by came from a California restaurateur named Prince Mike Romanoff. Regardless of the origin of this beautiful dessert's name, Jackie Kennedy definitely made Strawberries Romanoff a part of American history when she served it to Princess Grace, and it certainly has us counting the days until strawberries will be in season.