Israel Serves Japanese Prime Minister Dessert in a Shoe, Causing Offense

An Israeli chef prepared dinner for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on May 2, but his dessert left a bad taste in diplomats' mouths.

Celebrity chef Moshe Segev served chocolate pralines in a man's shoe—a brogue—and was so proud of his creation that he shared numerous images of the dessert on Instagram over the past week.

The video of the dish received little attention, but Segev's picture of himself with the diners and a close-up of the dessert attracted dozens of negative comments that spiraled into a diplomatic migraine.

Japanese etiquette is rigid when it comes to footwear, as the Lonely Planet website informs travelers. Shoes are banned from most private homes, as well as some museums and restaurants.

"Never wear shoes on tatami mats," the guide warns, referring to Japan's traditional flooring and bed mats—advice the chef failed to heed, as he served the dessert brogue on a tatami-style table mat.

"This was a stupid and insensitive decision," an unnamed senior Israeli diplomat who served in Japan told the Israeli news outlet Yediot Aharonot, according to The Jerusalem Post.

"There is nothing more despised in Japanese culture than shoes. 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 chocolates in a dish shaped like a pig."

A Japanese diplomat was also outraged. "No culture puts shoes on the table," the unnamed official told Yediot. He added, "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."

It's clear Segev, who previously created a dessert bearing the silhouettes of Netanyahu and Donald Trump when the Israeli leader hosted the American president, meant no offense. "Great honor to cook for you!" he wrote as a caption to the picture with the two leaders and their partners.

Israel Serves Japanese Prime Minister Dessert in a Shoe, Causing Offense | World