When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sara for dinner during their second official visit to Israel on Wednesday, they were treated to a dessert many found to be culturally offensive.
The group had just finished their gourmet meal at the Prime Minister’s Residence when the prime minister’s private chef, Moshe Segev, brought out a selection of chocolates served in an unusual container.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the celebrity chef known as Segev Moshe served the food on metal sculptures resembling a shoe.
Serving the dessert in footwear, which is already a questionable gesture in any culture, is believed to be highly offensive in Japan.
While Abe and his wife themselves did not make a fuss about it, diplomats from both countries immediately condemned the cultural blunder.
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A Japanese diplomat who took an issue of the incident reportedly told senior Israeli diplomat Yedioth Aharonot how offensive the action was for the Japanese.
“No culture puts shoes on the table,” the unnamed diplomat was quoted as saying. “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.”
Aharonot himself agreed: “This was a stupid and insensitive decision.”
“There is nothing more despised in Japanese culture than shoes,” he added. “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 chocolate in a dish shaped like a pig.”
Segev received criticisms from netizens when he posted photos of the infamous dessert on his Instagram account.
“Few decades back a war could start after such a dessert!” an Instagram user commented. “Thanks god, times have changed, but it’s such a shame for a PM’s chef. Was it just ignorance or a stupid joke? This gesture should be a hara-kiri of your business.”
“You’ve made your greatest fiasco ever,” another one wrote. “The nation will never forget this, Segev. I truly loved you. You should be ashamed.”
It is still unknown what message Segev was trying to deliver with the unusual food presentation as he has yet to address the reaction people had about it.
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