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Jamie Oliver's G20 Menu Critiqued

With the world's leaders in London for the G20, the British have recruited celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to cook up a storm. This is what they'll be eating:

Starter: Organic Scottish salmon with samphire and sea kale, and a selection of vegetables from Sussex, Surrey, and Kent.

Main course: Slow-roasted shoulder of Elwy Valley lamb with Jersey Royals, wild mushrooms and mint sauce.

Dessert: Bakewell tart and custard.

Vegetarian option: Goat's cheese starter followed by lovage and potato dumplings for the main course.

Chef Yotam Ottolenghi critiqued the feast for "The Guardian." Bottom line: Nice, but a bit inoffensive and not representative of Britain's cosmopolitan culinary influences:

The first impression I get from this menu is that it's extremely British and very politically inoffensive. I don't think it's terribly exciting, but then I don't think it should be on an occasion like this, when Jamie is trying to satisfy so many people.

He has clearly deliberately chosen produce from every corner of the country and made an effort to make it seasonal. With the starter in particular, samphire and sea kale are two of the very few vegetables which are truly native to Britain....

I would have liked to have seen a few subtle multicultural influences in the menu to reflect modern Britain. It's a very northern European menu and it doesn't represent the very strong south-east Asian influences that do exist here.

A vegetable curry might have been a better starter for the vegetarians than the goat's cheese, which a bit of a cliche -- it's what chefs do when they can't come up with something really interesting or exciting....

Some of the foreign guests might raise an eyebrow to the idea of mint sauce with lamb, but as long as Jamie keeps it fresh and doesn't make it vinegary, like some of the shop varieties, people won't find it offensive.

Why would people find mint sauce offensive?

-- Luke Allnutt

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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