Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, hosted the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife for dinner on May 2, following a discussion that included Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
What the foreign diplomats did not expect though, was to be treated to a distasteful gastronomic display that would finish off the gourmet meal on the wrong foot.
Israeli celebrity chef Moshe Segev took dinner etiquette to a new low when he presented the prime minister and his Japanese dignitaries with dessert inside of a shoe.
The prime minister’s private chef presented the last course, which were several bite-sized chocolate pralines, inside two pairs of men’s black brogues.
Although the Abe rolled with the punches during the dinner, Japanese and Israeli diplomats and citizens expressed their shock and disgust.
The unusual choice of tableware was regarded by many as remiss and culturally insensitive, seeing as Japanese culture dictates that they keep their footwear not just off their tables, but even outside of their front door.
“This was a stupid and insensitive decision,” a senior Israeli diplomat who had previously served in Japan said in a local newspaper. “There is nothing more despised in Japanese culture than shoes. Not only do they not enter their houses while wearing shoes, you will not find shoes in their offices either. Even the prime minister, ministers and members of parliament do not wear shoes to work… It is equivalent to serving a Jewish guest chocolates in a dish shaped like a pig.”
“No culture puts shoes on the table,” cried another Japanese diplomat. “What precisely was this illustrious chef Segev thinking?”
“If this is meant to be humor, we do not find it funny. I can tell you that we are offended for our prime minister,” the diplomat said.
Fans of the celebrity chef flocked in droves to his Instagram account, expressing their disappointment for their idol.
“You’ve made your greatest fiasco ever,” commented one Instagram user. “The nation will never forget this, Segev. I truly loved you. You should be ashamed.”