• Ambassador John Berry and Curtis Yee

    Ambassador John Berry and Curtis Yee

  • Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Eliot Engel

    Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Eliot Engel

  • Philip Ruddock

    Philip Ruddock

  • Sampling the Louisiana food of Chef Tory McPhail

    Sampling the Louisiana food of Chef Tory McPhail

  • A red, white and blue welcome

    A red, white and blue welcome

  • Tennessee and Kentucky's best drops

    Tennessee and Kentucky's best drops

  • The boys in the band...

    The boys in the band...

  • Just one teeny little cupcake....or two?

    Just one teeny little cupcake....or two?

  • A sign to warm the frozen guests....

    A sign to warm the frozen guests....

  • Ambassador of Japan Yoshitaka Akimoto and his wife Kumiko Akimoto

    Ambassador of Japan Yoshitaka Akimoto and his wife Kumiko Akimoto

  • Alicia Doherty and Ken Helm

    Alicia Doherty and Ken Helm

  • Autumn Campbell

    Autumn Campbell

  • Lieutenant Colonel Brent Reiffer and Lieutenant Paul Hodgins

    Lieutenant Colonel Brent Reiffer and Lieutenant Paul Hodgins

  • Colonel Doug Sachs, Captain Stewart Holbrook and Vice Admiral Ray Griggs

    Colonel Doug Sachs, Captain Stewart Holbrook and Vice Admiral Ray Griggs

  • Michael Shoebridge, Michael L'Estrange and John Lee

    Michael Shoebridge, Michael L'Estrange and John Lee

  • Roxnne Missingham and Glenn Lazarus

    Roxnne Missingham and Glenn Lazarus

  • Jane Halton and Ambassador John Berry

    Jane Halton and Ambassador John Berry

  • High Commissioner of Uganda Enoch Nkurho, Ambassador of Libya Musbah Allafi and Ambassaor of Colombia Clemencia Foreno

    High Commissioner of Uganda Enoch Nkurho, Ambassador of Libya Musbah Allafi and Ambassaor of Colombia Clemencia Foreno

  • Adam and Marianne Cullen

    Adam and Marianne Cullen

  • Paul Jevtovich, John Moss and Michael Cardew-Hall

    Paul Jevtovich, John Moss and Michael Cardew-Hall

  • Ambassador of Palestine Izzat Abdulhadi, Amin Saikal and Hamzeh Al-Omari

    Ambassador of Palestine Izzat Abdulhadi, Amin Saikal and Hamzeh Al-Omari

  • Andrew Barr and Tim Fawcett

    Andrew Barr and Tim Fawcett

  • Chef Tory McPahil

    Chef Tory McPahil

  • Dot and Peter Barclay

    Dot and Peter Barclay

  • Paul Houge and Natalee-Jewel Kirby

    Paul Houge and Natalee-Jewel Kirby

  • US Marine Corps Color Guard.

    US Marine Corps Color Guard.

  • Congressman Eliot Engel and Melissa Hitchman proposing the toast.

    Congressman Eliot Engel and Melissa Hitchman proposing the toast.

  • Steven Lamonica performs "Star Spangled Banner".

    Steven Lamonica performs "Star Spangled Banner".

Embassy of the USA 4th July Celebrations

2 July 2014

I unintentionally lied to Ambassador John Berry. I promised the fog would lift sooner rather than later and it didn’t. Not even a ray or two to shine on his and Curtis Yee’s first Australian 4th July party occurred but I can assure him that despite the disparaging remarks of our Minister of Defence Senator David Johnston that Canberra’s weather is always bad – to the collective rumbling boo of the Canberra guests – a cold 4th July in Canberra is positively balmy compared to Australia Day in Washington DC in January.

But the warmth of the reception and the gumbo, whiskey, hot dogs, hamburgers and hot chocolate and cupcakes made up for that with the opportunity to play (American) games and enjoy interactive activities- perhaps cuddling in groups would’ve helped -  that has become the hallmark of this event and kept the circulation just above freezing.

It is an event that brings an interesting mix of locals, some interstate guests, plenty of the top brass, diplomats and politicians to mix and mingle. And chomping on a burger or hot dog under the magnolias, clutching a hot peach turnover to warm the hands then the belly and tossing back a nip of bourbon is a great leveler for all who brave this party. Special guests included Congressmen Eliot Engel and Dana Rohrabacher who were part of the official formalities and the US Pacific Fleet band, a talented bunch indeed, accompanied the anthems and performed through the day.

Prior to the official arrival of the guests an unusual initiative instigated by the US Department of State to highlight the diversity of food and its potential for a Diplomatic Culinary Partnership program, was launched by guest chef Tory McPhail from the Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans. He brought his recipes and expertise to the embassy kitchen and a taste testing before the guests arrived was a media prize not to be missed. He’s an award winning chef and the previous night he’d taste tested a degustation dinner at The Ottoman. It was also an occasion to launch the Discover America Culinary Guide that is part of this culinary diplomacy and a story book of food regions, produce and recipes.

I just wanted a cup of soup – Chef McPhail’s Chicken Gumbo – and a request to that band of musos for some Zydeco music to accompany it.