So what was on the menu at the recent G8 gathering which has been labelled as the “world food shortages summit”.
As the food crisis began to bite, the rumblings of discontent grew louder. Finally, after a day of discussing food shortages and soaring prices, the famished stomachs of the G8 leaders could bear it no longer.
The most powerful bellies in the world were last night compelled to stave off the great Hokkaido Hunger by fortifying themselves with an eight-course, 19-dish dinner prepared by 25 chefs. This multi-pronged attack was launched after earlier emergency lunch measures – four courses washed down with Château-Grillet 2005 – had failed to quell appetites enlarged by agonising over feeding the world’s poor.
The G8 gathering had been seen as a “world food shortages summit” as leaders sought to combat spiralling prices of basic foodstuffs in the developed world, and starvation in the developing world.
But not since Marie Antoinette was supposed to have leaned from a Versailles palace window and suggested that the breadless peasants eat cake can leaders have demonstrated such insensitivity to daily hardship than at the luxury Windsor hotel on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
After discussing famine in Africa, the peckish politicians and five spouses took on four bite-sized amuse-bouche to tickle their palates. The price of staple foods may be soaring, but thankfully caviar and sea urchin are within the purchasing power of leaders and their taxpayers – the amuse-bouche featured corn stuffed with caviar, smoked salmon and sea urchin, hot onion tart and winter lily bulb.
Guests at the summit, which is costing £238m, were then able to pick items from a tray modelled on a fan and decorated with bamboo grasses, including diced fatty tuna fish, avocado and jellied soy sauce, and pickled conger eel with soy sauce.
Hairy crab Kegani bisque-style soup was another treat in a meal prepared by the Michelin-starred chef Katsuhiro Nakamura, the grand chef at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont in Tokyo, alongside salt-grilled bighand thornyhead (a small, red Pacific fish) with a vinegary water pepper sauce.
They have told their people to tighten their belts for lean times ahead, but you feared for presidential and prime ministerial girdles after the chance to tuck into further dishes including milk-fed lamb, roasted lamb with cepes, and black truffle with emulsion sauce. Finally there was a “fantasy” dessert, a special cheese selection accompanied by lavender honey and caramelised nuts, while coffee came with candied fruits and vegetables.
Leaders cleverly skated around global water shortages by choosing from five different wines and liqueurs.
Earlier, the heads of state had restricted themselves to a light lunch of asparagus and truffle soup, crab and supreme of chicken served with nuts and beetroot foam, followed by a cheese selection, peach compote, milk ice-cream and coffee with petits fours.
Fresh from instructing his population to waste less food, it can only be hoped that Gordon Brown polished off every single morsel on his plate.
Andrew Mitchell, the shadow secretary of state for international development, said: “The G8 have made a bad start to their summit, with excessive cost and lavish consumption. Surely it is not unreasonable for each leader to give a guarantee that they will stand by their solemn pledges of three years ago at Gleneagles to help the world’s poor. All of us are watching, waiting and listening.”