FinMinDin

Finance ministers eat the darndest things

July 1, 2013
July 1, 2013

Pity the poor finance minister. It’s an unglamorous job with lots of numbers and not much chance to shine—and apparently it’s hungry work.

Japanese finance minister Taro Aso suavely pulled off an ice-cream eating publicity stunt this month with resounding success. “Is it really okay for a 72-year-old to look this cool eating an ice-cream in front of a convenience store?” Twitter user Hiroo Mizuno asked his 4,800 followers, with an accompanying photo. Another user replied: “If him just eating ice cream in front of a convenience stores makes this great a picture, then I can’t imagine how cool a scene of him drinking whiskey on the rocks in a bar would be.” (Aso also looks pretty dapper eating ramen.)

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Alas, not all of Aso’s counterparts have his culinary/sartorial panache. UK chancellor George Osborne tweeted a picture of himself last week “putting the final touches” to a speech while eating a burger and fries. The upper-class Osborne has often been criticized before for trying and failing to appeal to the common masses, and Britain’s media, netizens and fellow politicians had no mercy for his latest attempt. It didn’t take long for the Sun newspaper to point out that it was a gourmet luxury burger costing more than $10.

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Samoa’s finance minister took a different tack. The South Pacific island nation is over-run with stray dogs. Some of its politicians decided recently that one way to rid the country of its canine affliction is to encourage its populace to eat the strays. Samoa’s finance minister, Faumuina Tiatia Faaolatane Liuga, joined in the chorus, pointing out that “when it gets cold in Asia [at] the moment you eat dog meat; you feel warm afterwards.”

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Maybe dog doesn’t tickle your tastebuds. The late Irish finance minister Brian Lenihan was fond of a vegetarian alternative during late night meetings—raw garlic. Author and television personality David McWilliams met Lenihan in 2008 and reported that the minister “had been chomping raw garlic all summer, since he’d got the finance job. He explained to me that the garlic gave him strength and kept him healthy and alert,” wrote McWilliams. Either that or he was afraid of vampires.

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One-time French finance minister Christine Lagarde is now the head of the International Monetary Fund. But even rising high in the world of international finance hasn’t driven the hunger away. At a meeting of the World Economic Forum, Ms Lagarde demonstrated a worrying penchant for cannibalism, promising that “future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.” Granted, she was talking about climate change, but there was clearly something on her mind.

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