By Steve Holland
TRINWILLERSHAGEN, Germany (Reuters) – President Bush put
Middle East tension, violence in Iraq and Iran’s nuclear
program behind him on Thursday to feast on a wild boar roasting
on a spit.
“Laura and I come from Texas,” Bush told his host German
Chancellor Angela Merkel on a warm summer evening. “One of the
greatest compliments you can pay a guest is to have a
The barbecue was a much-anticipated highlight of Bush’s
visit to Merkel’s political home base in northeastern Germany,
a grilling he had been looking forward to all day.
Merkel greeted Bush wearing faded blue jeans as the U.S.
president and his wife, Laura, arrived in the tiny Baltic town
north of Berlin aboard the Marine One helicopter.
They walked past a red-coated band playing a medley of
songs like “Hooray for the Red, White and Blue,” and Bush
plucked the conductor’s wand from his hand and led the band for
a few notes.
Then he and Merkel posed for pictures with the band as its
members played on, Bush startling a woman playing a flute by
poking her on the shoulder.
Nearby, three creatures were turning slowly over flaming
beds of coals, one of them a wild boar hunted down by
restaurant owner Olaf Micheel.
After both leaders spoke to the crowd, Bush said: “Thanks
for having us. Let’s go eat.”
Someone handed Bush a long knife and fork and as he
prepared to pierce the meat, members of another band lifted
their horns and began to play on cue.
Bush cut several slices from the shoulder and Merkel did
the same from a haunch, and the eating began.
At a joint news conference with Merkel earlier in
Stralsund, Bush kept mentioning a wild boar, slaughtered and
roasted the traditional way, that he planned to share at the
“I’m looking forward to the feast you’re going to have
tonight. I understand I may have the honor of slicing the pig,”
Bush told Merkel.
A few minutes later — after discussing Iran, the Middle
East, the merits of press freedoms in Russia and progress on
the Doha round of free trade talks — Bush returned to the
“Thank you for having me,” he told Merkel. “Looking forward
to that pig tonight.”
Bush answered a few more questions but kept coming back to
the boar for a third, then a fourth time.