Modern Israeli cuisine may be the hottest trend in the United States nowadays, with Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov grabbing this year’s top U.S. chef prize, for introducing Americans to the joys of Middle Eastern flavors. But those preparing the food for President Donald Trump in Israel know that the 70-year-old billionaire is fond of familiar and simple fare — and so, like the president’s Saudi hosts before him, they decided to forgo local flavors and stick to the tried and true.
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The Saudis bragged internationally that Trump received his favorite all-American meal — steak and ketchup — on his first foreign visit.
The dinner Trump ate at the Jerusalem home of Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu on Monday was prepared by celebrity chef Segev Moshe — an unsurprising choice, since he is married to Sara Netanyahu’s stylist and BFF Sandra Ringler. The celebrity and host of the “Extreme Makeover” television show, Ringler is credited with Sara Netanyahu’s more stylish choices and sleeker look in recent years, after some previous fashion debacles.
“It was important to the Netanyahus that the president feel at home,” Moshe said. From the morning, he and his team of sous-chefs, pastry chefs and waiters were at the Netanyahus' residence, preparing the table — decorated with oversized apples and Israeli and U.S. flags — for the big dinner. Moshe posed for a photo with the two couples Netanyahu’s son Yair at the dinner table.
He claimed that he used “high quality local ingredients” to create “a combination of cuisines from around the world,” but a look at the menu showed a fairly conservative approach, sticking with the familiar. It balanced the meat and potatoes that Trump is famous for favoring, with lighter fish-and-vegetable offerings presumably aimed at former-fashion-model Melania’s tastes.
Moshe made an effort to dress up the fairly boring fare with some fancy wording, as the menu demonstrates.
The first course, called: “A Taste of America,” consisted of a hamburger slider with beet ketchup and mustard aioli (it’s questionable how Trump feels about beets in his precious ketchup, let alone the fact that Moshe’s accompanying “chips” were made from rice and kale). Next course, “The Path to Peace” was salmon with a "delicate miso caramel glaze." It’s unclear what salmon has to do with peace — and since fish have no legs, they can’t follow a path. A stream or current of peace might have been more appropriate phrasing. The salmon was accompanied by a sprout salad so maybe it expresses the hope that peace is sprouting?
That was followed by a course entitled “Lifting the World” — a choice of beef fillet (Trump’s favorite) with barbecue sauce and red curry foie gras with pureed potatoes or a fillet of fish with corn soup with red chili, mirin and coconut. Again, the connection between the inspiring sentiment and the uninspiring food choices isn't easy to grasp. A souffle might have been a more appropriate symbol for giving the world a “lift.”
Finally, came the selection of desserts in a course called “The Big Apple.” It was the one course that gave a nod to the Middle East with the inclusion of baklava and malabi, a local favorite rose-scented rice pudding, along with all-American apple pie (which was billed as being “purple.” Purple apples?)
A photograph of one of the desserts showed pralines laid out on a chessboard placed between the fused profiles of Trump and Netanyahu — presumably illustrating a meeting of the minds.
But top dessert billing went to molten chocolate cake, especially adapted to Trump’s aesthetic preferences with the addition on top of a gold leaf — a tribute to the U.S. president’s favorite shiny color — and coconut crunch.
Trump’s special fondness for chocolate cake became famous when he recounted discussing the American missile attack on Syria, while dining at Mar-a-Lago with the Chinese president over “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen.” No word yet on how the Israeli version held up in comparison.