Esor Ben-Sorek

Another blunder… But don’t blame it on Bibi

There is an American food which I’m told is called “pig in a blanket” but since many Jews eat it, I’m assured that it is tasty. It consists of small hot dog sausages rolled in dough and baked in an oven.

I don’t know where the “pig” comes in. The hot dogs are kosher. No accounting for taste.

Which brings me to the newest blunder in the Prime Minister’s Jerusalem residence. For once, it cannot be blamed on Bibi.  (Unfortunately, not on Sara either).

At a very recent formal dinner hosted by the Prime Minister and his wife in honor of the visiting Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, on May 2nd, the dinner prepared by Israel’s  illustrious chef and the Netanyahu’s private chef, Segev Moshe, went very well until the dessert was served.

When placed before the Japanese Prime Minister, he was appalled and Japanese diplomats were stunned and offended.

What could possibly go wrong with a fancy dessert?

Segev had created a variety of chocolates served in a large metal shoe. Anyone familiar with Japanese culture and customs would know that shoes are as anathema to the Japanese as pork, bacon, shrimp and lobsters are to observant Jews.

Japanese remove their shoes before entering their homes and offices. Shoes are considered something filthy in Japanese culture. And therefore, placing a metal shoe filled with chocolates on the plate of PM Abe was a gross error and insult.

But this time, don’t blame the Netanyahus. The fault, though innocent, was made by chef Segev, the man who cooks all the meals served on El Al Airlines.  This time, I fear that he will have to take flight from the humiliation and diplomatic unintended boo-boo.

When observant Jewish heads of state or observant diplomatic personnel are invited to dine at the White House, the chief chef turns many pages of the many kosher cookbooks to find something both delicious and acceptable for the guests.

One would think that chef Segev, unfamiliar with the dietary habits of foreign dignitaries, would have done likewise. Alas for the error. But Japan will not break diplomatic relations with Israel on account of a shoe.

The two prime ministers had much more important matters to discuss, namely the problems with Iran and the emerging possibility of an attack leading to open warfare.

Of all peoples and nations in the world, Japan alone understands the horrific meaning of nuclear war. Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended World War II at the cost of the lives  of tens of thousands of Japanese civilians. It is burned forever in their memories. And exactly because of that fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu is seeking the aid of Prime Minister Abe to intervene with the Iranian government to end their nuclear war weapons program..

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one bright morning we would awake to the news that Iran has destroyed its nuclear weapons of mass destruction and, remembering ancient Persia’s warm and cordial treatment of the Jews, would renounce all hatred against Israel, Zionism and Jews?

But regrettably, the messiah has not yet arrived. And we are forced to chant our lamentation:

“ani maamin be-emuna shlaima b’viat ha moshiach, v’af al pi she yitmamaya b’kol zeh ani maamin”… I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the messiah and even though he delays his arrival, yet I still believe”.

It is that verse which gave hope to the Jewish people over the many centuries of our long and past history.

But if one day a future Israeli Prime Minister would invite a future Iranian Prime Minister to dine at the official residence, what special meal could the chef invent which would not be offensive to the Iranian guest?

Well, chef Segev (if he is still permitted to cook for dignitaries) might consider Fesenjan, a stew of meat. pomegranates and walnuts accompanied by Tahdig, the famous Persian crunchy fried rice (goes with every meal) and he should definitely avoid the extremely delicious Zeresh Polo, a barberry and cranberry rice cooked in butter… a No No for kosher diners when served with a meat meal.

And for dessert, it absolutely MUST be the scrumptious dish native to Shiraz.. Faloodah Shirazi, semi-frozen noodles in a rosewater syrup and then bathed with lime juice and sour cherry syrup.

And as the guests sit down to an elaborate meal, don’t forget to say “Nooshejan”… bon appetit !

Ah…  how nice it is to dream !

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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