State dinners at the Kremlin are, not surprisingly, rather pompous affairs. Lots of china, silver and black ties -- and exquisite food.
On Tuesday evening, however, at a dinner in honor of the visiting German head of state, President Christian Wulff, the meal was apparently even fresher than normal. A salad served to one of the guests at the dinner contained a real, live earthworm. And now, the recipient of the salad may end up losing his job as a result.
Dmitry Zelenin, the governor of the Tver Oblast region, took a photo of the worm as it crawled across his salad plate before posted it on his Twitter account later. "Things like this happen, even in Alexandrovsky Hall," he wrote in the post. "Together with beef, you're being served lettuce with earthworms."
'Termination for Imbecility'
Unfortunately for Zelenin, not everyone found the incident particularly amusing. The Kremlin's top foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, took Zelenin to task on Wednesday, saying that a law should be introduced allowing for governors to be subject to "termination for imbecility." He added: "I won't even comment on irresponsibility and foolishness." Zelenin quickly removed the Twitter post and photo.
In an interview with the Russian website Lifenews.ru, the Kremlin's head chef, Anatoly Galkin, insisted that everything served at the Kremlin "goes through a very careful examination" and called Zelenin's allegation of finding an earthworm "nonsense."
But Russian food critic Vladislav Vasyukhin, reached by the Moscow Times, said that such a thing is eminently possible. "While there is strict control over dishes served to the likes of Putin and Medvedev, it's hard to inspect every plate for a reception that serves hundreds of people," he said. Plus, he added, salad leaves are difficult to wash.
Whether the German president was amused by the incident remains unclear.