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Diplomatic dining: Spotlight on Trump and Kim's working lunch menu

In this image made from video provided by Host Broadcaster Mediacorp Pte Ltd., U.S. President Donald Trump, second from left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, fourth from right, arrive for a working lunch at the Capella Hotel in Singapore, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Host Broadcaster Mediacorp Pte Ltd via AP)

As U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for a historic summit in Singapore on June 12, analysts have focused not only on their menu for discussion but on the fare they dined on over lunch.

Megumi Nishikawa, a Mainichi Shimbun contributing writer who has previously analyzed the food and wine of leaders to draw diplomatic conclusions, takes a close-up look at Trump and Kim's lunch menu.

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We can probably conclude that the leaders' meal was prepared by the hotel where they held their summit and that it incorporated requests from both Washington and Pyongyang, but it is interesting to note that an effort was made to include cuisine of the summit's host, Singapore.

The midday meal was a working lunch with a practical bill of fare: appetizers followed by the main meal and then dessert.

Since Trump entered the White House, midday and evening meals have had three courses in principle. When former President Barack Obama was in office, there was sometimes another course between the appetizer and the main dish, but menus have been simplified under Trump, and the number of dishes has also been decreased with healthy eating in mind.

If North Korea had been in charge of the working lunch, it likely would have been a lavish meal resembling a banquet. The fact that it was a practical menu suggests that it was mainly arranged by the United States with the consent of North Korea.

Cuisine from the U.S., North Korea and Singapore was served at the lunch. The appetizer consisted of a prawn cocktail with avocado salad (representing the U.S.), a green mango salad with fresh octopus (Singapore), and meat-stuffed cucumbers (North Korea). The main meal was a confit of beef on the bone with potato gratin and broccoli (U.S.), sweet-and-sour pork with fried rice (Singapore), and simmered cod with radish and Asian vegetables (North Korea). Both Singaporean dishes were listed between the U.S. and North Korean dishes on the menu -- an apparent indication of Singapore's role of linking the U.S. and North Korea.

Was there wine at the lunch? Normally white wine would be served and a toast made, but Trump is a teetotaler, and Kim likely would have taken the atmosphere into consideration, having only a light sip if anything.

(Japanese original by Megumi Nishikawa, Contributing Writer)

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