Wednesday, July 09, 2008

G8 Leaders Feast On Irony at Summit

It sounds like a cliche, a very poorly made joke, or cheap movie plot: leaders from around the world gather to hold talks about poverty and hunger and dine on culinary feasts prepared by 60 chefs flown in for the occasion. Irony is much thicker than any gravy.

President Bush, along with leaders from Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia, are meeting in Japan at a conference estimated to cost 285 million pounds. On their first day of talks about food shortages worldwide, they had a 6-course lunch and later an 18-course dinner, all washed down with fine wines and champagne.

A few months back, reports of food riots over basic staples such as rice were in the news. At the conference, the U.K.'s Gordon Brown urged his nation to reduce the demand for "unnecessary food" and to eliminate wasteful eating habits. Then the feasts began:

"As the champagne flowed, the couples enjoyed 18 "higher-quality ingredients", beginning with amuse-bouche of corn stuffed with caviar, smoked salmon and sea urchin pain-surprise-style, hot onion tart and winter lily bulbs.

With translations helpfully provided by the hosts, the starter menu (second course) read like a meal in itself. A folding fan-modelled tray decorated with bamboo grasses carried eight delicacies: kelp-flavoured cold Kyoto beef shabu-shabu, with asparagus dressed with sesame cream; diced fatty flesh of tuna fish, with avocado and jellied soy sauce and the Japanese herb shiso; boiled clam, tomato and shiso in jellied clear soup of clam; water shield and pink conger dressed with a vinegary soy sauce; boiled prawn with jellied tosazu-vinegar; grilled eel rolled around burdock strip; sweet potato; and fried and seasoned goby with soy sauce and sugar.

That was followed by a hairy crab kegani bisque-style soup and salt-grilled bighand thornyhead with a vinegary water pepper sauce. The main course brought the "meat sweats" – poele of milk-fed lamb flavoured with aromatic herbs and mustard, as well as roasted lamb with black truffle and pine seed oil sauce. For the cheese course, the Japanese offered a special selection with lavender honey and caramelised nuts. It was followed by a "G8 fantasy dessert" and coffee served with candied fruits and vegetables.

This was washed down with Le Reve grand cru/La Seule Gloire champagne; a sake wine, Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Nakadori; Corton-Charlemagne 2005 (France); Ridge California Monte Bello 1997 and Tokaji Esszencia 1999 (Hungary).

The G8 leaders had earlier made do with a "working lunch" of white asparagus and truffle soup; kegani crab; supreme of chicken; and cheese and coffee with petit fours. The lubrication of choice, for those drinking, was Chateau Grillet 2005."

IOther events of note at the summit:

"I wish for a world free from tyranny: the tyranny of hunger, disease and free from tyrannical governments," was George Bush's wish, handwritten on a piece of parchment and tied to a bamboo tree as part of the Japanese Tanabata festival.

The annual ceremony, which this year coincided with Japan's hosting of the G8 summit, is based on the myth of two star-crossed lovers condemned to meet only once a year in the Milky Way on 7 July. Every summer Japanese people write prayers on thin strips of paper and hang them in bamboo branches in the hope their wishes will be granted."

Wishes tied to tree limbs may be as effective a policy as the G8 can create.


  1. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Why wasn't I invited. I understand hunger as well as any of the G-8 leaders. The white asparagus soup and petit fours are especially filling. Ask anyone in Darfur.