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7 Giants of History and the Food they Enjoyed Most

Ian Harvey

Who among us hasn’t wondered what some person from history would be like? We have probably all learned about some figure from the past who intrigued us, maybe led us to wonder what it would be like to meet and talk with them. None of us will ever have that opportunity, because, well… The past is the past.

Nonetheless, many people who became notable over the years did leave clues about themselves behind, and one of those clues is the food that they particularly liked. Let’s look at some famous figures from the past and see what their favorite foods were.

Cleopatra

It seems right to start by looking at a queen who was known to be well versed in appeal. According to Food Junkie, one of the many things she was known for was her ability to throw a dinner party.

Most likely a posthumous portrait of Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt with red hair and her distinct facial features, wearing a royal diadem and pearl-studded hairpins, from Roman Herculaneum, Italy, 1st century AD.

Most likely a posthumous portrait of Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt with red hair and her distinct facial features, wearing a royal diadem and pearl-studded hairpins, from Roman Herculaneum, Italy, 1st century AD.

Egyptian food blended elements of Arab and Mediterranean cuisines, providing a diet that was rich in meat and fish, with lots of olive oil, grains, legumes, and vegetables.

Historical evidence suggests that Cleopatra liked stuffed pigeons best, accompanied by seasonal veggies or soups made from beans or barley and spelt. She also enjoyed mutton as well as fish from the Nile. She had a bit of a sweet tooth, too, and as a result favored cakes of figs and nuts, covered in honey.

Julius Caesar

Arguably the best known of all the Roman emperors of ancient times, Caesar was both admired and feared.

According to Food Junkie, like many Romans of his time, he was very fond of good food and drink.

A sculpture of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar near the old orangery in the public Lazienki Park, Warsaw. The sculpture was made by Franciszek Pinck (1733-1798).

A sculpture of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar near the old orangery in the public Lazienki Park, Warsaw. The sculpture was made by Franciszek Pinck (1733-1798).

His favorite dish was pork shoulder with onions, apples, wine, vinegar, and seasoned with an anchovy sauce instead of salt.

Rolled pork roast with sage and thyme herb garnish.

Rolled pork roast with sage and thyme herb garnish.

He accompanied it with apple jelly and pate. This dish is one that remains not only in use, but popular, to this day.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon came from humble origins and his taste in food may have reflected that fact. He favored light and simple meals and his favorite was Chicken Marengo.

Chicken Marengo – a dish of sautéed chicken baked with garlic and tomato, garnished with fried eggs and crayfish.

Chicken Marengo – a dish of sautéed chicken baked with garlic and tomato, garnished with fried eggs and crayfish.

Feast says that this particular dish was, in fact, created for him during the battle of Marengo, which is how the dish got its name.

The story is that Napoleon hadn’t eaten all day and his cook, worried for him, sent soldiers to the local farmhouses in search of food worthy of the great man. When the soldiers returned, they brought back chicken, crayfish, garlic, eggs, and some tomatoes. The cook used all of those to create a dish to lift Napoleon’s spirits, and apparently it did, because it was his favorite dish from then on.

Charles Darwin

Moving to more recent figures, Darwin had an interesting relationship with food.

Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin.

At Cambridge, he belonged to the Glutton Club, which met weekly and was focused around the idea of eating “strange flesh,” including things like hawk and owl.

An armadillo standing up on its hind legs to look for danger.

An armadillo standing up on its hind legs to look for danger.

Darwin tried the meat of nearly every animal he encountered, but he said his favorite was an armadillo, which tasted like duck, but better.

Albert Einstein

Einstein wasn’t a big fan of eating meat, for moral reasons.

Einstein in 1947

Einstein in 1947

Even before he went he went full vegetarian, he was noted to have said in a letter to a friend that man wasn’t meant to be a carnivore.

Pasta with tomato sauce and basil.

Pasta with tomato sauce and basil.

His favorite food still made him easy to share a meal with, though. Einstein favored pasta according to friends and family.

Andy Warhol

The famous artist was also a famous eater of sweets, preferring them over savory foods.

Pop artist Andy Warhol eating cereal and looking at his mother Julia, probably at her home. Photo by Ken Heyman/Woodfin Camp/Woodfin Camp/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Pop artist Andy Warhol eating cereal and looking at his mother Julia, probably at her home. Photo by Ken Heyman/Woodfin Camp/Woodfin Camp/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

He was known to go to bakeries and eat entire birthday cakes on his own, and he carried candy or cookies everywhere he went. Even at dinner parties, Warhol was known to skip the main course and go straight to dessert.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Unsurprisingly, the Southern-born Dr. King strongly favored soul food.

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The dishes that spelled comfort for him were things like ham, fried chicken, and sweet potatoes, and the main dish would be paired with two kinds of greens and Crowder peas. His favorite dessert was sweet potato pie.