What did the great tyrants of the 20th century eat? A newly published book of Dictators’ Dinners tells all

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Image: Shark fin soup, Quality Street and all-night Georgian banquets: dictators' dinners revealed

Marion Doss / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: ooocha

Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Munich, Germany

What do shark fin soup, raw garlic salad and an obsession with Quality Street have in common? Well, they’re the wonderful and downright weird favourite dishes of the world’s most notorious dictators.


A new book called Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants, which is published this week, spills the beans on the dining habits of 26 dictators.


Gathered from notes penned by their chefs and housekeepers, we’re talking Stalin’s love of all-night Georgian banquets and Saddam Hussein’s long battle with his love of Quality Street.


Here are some of their favourite dishes.

Who? Saddam Hussein
He ate: Quality Street
We say: wonder if he hated the green triangle ones too?


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Quality Street

Garry Knight / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted /Flickr: garryknight

Who? Benito Mussolini
The food: salad made with roughly chopped raw garlic, dressed with oil and lemon
We say: his wife tended to sleep in the children’s room, apparently. Might not have been down to the garlic though

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Isobal Eyre / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: Issyeyre

Who? Muammar Gaddafi
The food: camels' milk
We say: it gave him flatulence which, rumour has it, he would use to emphasise important point in interviews. Ahem

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Keith Roper / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: keithroper

Who? Kim Jong-Il
The food: Iranian caviar, Danish pork, Thai mangoes, shark fin soup
We say: does he get the most foodie dictator award?

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Sharks fin soup

Alpha / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: avlxyz

Who? Adolf Hitler
The food: he was quite partial to pigeon stuffed with tongue, liver and pistachio nuts
We say: yes, this is despite his well-documented vegetarianism

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Jean-Daniel Echenar / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: Jd.echenar

  • Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants by Victoria Clark and Melissa Scott is published by Gilgamesh, rrp £14.95