Look through any traditional Japanese home and there is at least one thing you won’t find strewn about: a pair of shoes. In Japan, bringing a shoe inside one’s home is disrespectful, so you can imagine how they would feel about having their dessert served inside of one.
During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Israel, celebrity chef Segev Moshe pulled a major faux pas when it came time to serve the foreign diplomat and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu dessert. After a delectable feast, Moshe presented the two leaders and their spouses, Akie Abe and Sara Netanyahu, chocolate pralines served inside of a shoe.
Abe composed himself throughout what a Japanese diplomat considered an offensive act. “There’s no culture in the world in which you put shoes on the table,” the unnamed diplomat told Israel’s daily newspaper, Yediot Aharonot. “If it was humor, we don’t think it is funny; we were offended on behalf of our prime minister.”
The Japanese consider the wearing of shoes indoors to be ‘barbaric’, and a critical custom which historically distinguishes Japan’s own sense of civilization and civility from others. Chocolates inside a shoe angered and insulted the entire Japanese delegation, including PM Abe
— Pedro Costa-Cabral (@CabralDon) May 8, 2018
Neither Abe or Netanyahu commented on the unusual use of a shoe, but Israel’s Foreign Ministry chimed in to ensure everyone knew that it played no part in selecting the desert. “We have the utmost respect for the Japanese prime minister,” the ministry assured.
The offending dessert was posted to chef Segev’s Instagram page, and while it does look like an authentic leather shoe, Segev’s publicist confirmed with Yediot Aharonot that it was a sculpture created by international artist Tom Dixon, who is featured in museums around the globe. “This is a high-quality piece of art made of cast metal in the shape of a show; it is not a real shoe,” the publicist informed the paper.
Real shoe or not, even the concept of a shoe is considered offensive by the people of Japan, and that’s not really a big secret. In response to what Japanese diplomats are calling a thoughtless act, the public took to the internet to share their opinion. Unfortunately for Segev, there’s a consensus that serving dessert in a shoe, whether real or not, is an odd choice.
'It is equivalent to serving a Jewish guest chocolates in a dish shaped like a pig' – Israeli diplomat https://t.co/ITiSckQqVY
— RT (@RT_com) May 8, 2018
Honestly, looks like a real shoe, something you put your feet in – even I was aghast as what was the Israelis thinking serving it. Japanese ads have things that look like shoes but, evidently, are not, even chocolate shoe. Writer lives in Japan for years but still not one of us
— Nedster (@BAG66U) May 9, 2018
The celebrity chef did have his supporters, however, with one Twitter user, @AmySpiro, calling him a “visionary.”
The shoe? Is offered for sale for use as a door stop or decoration. ??
That just makes Moshe Segev even more of a visionary! https://t.co/HJJjfol8kK
— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) May 7, 2018