There are very few, if any, where the placement of a shoe on a dining table is acceptable behavior. Japanese culture especially has an etiquette of outdoor shoes not being allowed inside the home.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie traveled to Israel last week. It was there that the controversial dessert plate was served.
After a full day of high-level meetings on May 2nd, the Japanese officials sat down to a festive meal at the home of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. Israeli celebrity chef Segev Moshe created their meals that evening.
All was going well, until dessert. An assortment of chocolate pralines arranged beautifully inside a shining leather shoe.
The Controversy of a Shoe as a Serving Plate for Japanese, and Other, Officials
A favorite daily newspaper in Israel wrote on Monday that Japanese diplomats, Foreign Ministry officials, and other diplomats who had served in Japan couldn’t believe what they heard.
One Israeli official stated that the decision was insensitive. He explains that in Japan, nothing is lowlier than a shoe. They don’t wear them inside the house or even in the offices.
An unnamed diplomat from Japan in the paper said no culture allowed for shoes on tables and wondered what the chef was thinking. He said that despite any possible attempt at humor, they not find it funny. The Japanese took offense on their prime minister’s behalf.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it had no involvement in approving the dishes for the meal. When questioned, the ministry said they appreciated the chef and his creativity. Later on, they added that they had much respect for the Japanese Prime Minister.
The chef posted a picture of his creation on Instagram, showing off his work. Segev’s publicist stated that the shoe in question was a piece of art created from cast metal in the shape of the shoe. Therefore, it is not an actual shoe that Segev served to the officials.
Comments on Instagram from his followers seemed to have differing opinions, however.
One follower wrote that when creating a meal for high ranking officials, the least the chef can do is look into the guest and their culture. And since Japan has a less than favorable view of shoes, that was not the best avenue he could have taken.