G8: Eat as we say, not as we do

World leaders are not renowned for their modest wine selections or reticence at the G8 summit's cheese board.

And discussing the global food crisis - spiralling grocery prices in the developed world and starvation in Africa - was clearly hungry work that left their stomachs rumbling.

Shortly after calling on the world to waste less food, the G8 premiers and their wives sat down for an eight-course "Blessings of the Earth and the Sea Social Dinner" in Tokyo, courtesy of the Japanese Government.

The world food shortage was nowhere to be seen.

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.

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 selection with lavender honey and caramelised nuts. It was followed by a "G8 fantasy dessert" and coffee served with candied fruits and vegetables.

The wine list included 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).

Sixty chefs were flown in for the occasion.

While the dinner went on, officials from the G8 nations haggled late into the night over the summit declaration on aid to the poorest nations.

Pressure groups fear the G8 is trying to water down the commitment it made at Gleneagles to double aid to poor countries to US$50 billion by 2010.

- INDEPENDENT

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