Every nation has a creative spin on any one of its dishes, and celebrity chefs sometimes gain worldwide acclaim – or in this case infamy – when making quite the weird take on meals. Such was the case of the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie at the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjami Netanyahu and his wife Sara, where the supposed peaceful meal ended up, well, on the wrong foot.
The culprit seems to be a rather unique – or to others, offensive – take on a chocolate dessert courtesy of celebrity chef Moshe Segev, especially when he capped quite the sophisticated dinner with a selection of chocolates. It wasn’t the chocolates that made offense, though, it’s the metal shoe they were served in, as this was considered rude in Japanese culture
Granted, Abe had not made any remarks about the peculiar presentation of the dish. It was people from the Israeli and Japanese diplomatic camps that made the comments on the “distasteful” nature of the dish, regardless if there was no intention to offend. In fact, Japanese watchers themselves were surprised Abe would be served from shoes.
According to a senior Israeli diplomat who had served in Japan, the decision to serve the meal was rather insensitive. The diplomat explained shoes hold a rather sensitive part of Japanese culture, especially when taken into account that people are not expected to enter offices and houses wearing their shoes. The diplomat added what Segev did was akin to serving a Jewish guest the same thing, only in a pig-shaped dish.
Even Japanese diplomats were visibly upset. One said no culture would perhaps put shoes on a dinner table, and even if the move was meant in jest, it wasn’t humorous in any way. The diplomat made it clear they were offended for the prime minister.
Segev himself posted pictures of the infamous dessert on his account in Instagram, where he also gathered the ire from both his fans and casual onlookers.
Despite the infamy, Segev himself is actually a prominent television personality, author, and restaurateur. He also serves as El Al Airlines’ head chef.
Meanwhile, this was not the first time Abe visited the country. The Prime Minister last visited Israel last 2015, which was the first time a Japanese prime minister have visited Israel. Throughout the dinner, Netanyahu and Abe had discussed matters including Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, the Iranian nuclear deal, and even North Korea.
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