The favorite foods and eccentric eating habits of 9 ruthless dictators

Cobra stew. Hallucinogenic root bark. KFC.

These were the favorite meals of some of the most ruthless dictators of the 20th century.

In "Dictators' Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants," Victoria Clark and Melissa Scott offer insights into dictators' table manners, food vices, and fears of poisonings. They also include recipes for some of the meals.

We selected several leaders from the book and highlighted their favorite foods — and some of their horrifying dinnertime eccentricities:

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Favorite foods of dictators
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Favorite foods of dictators
Kim Jong Il

Korea's Kim Jong Il loved shark-fin soup and dog-meat soup.

Foods of choice: Kim Jong Il's favorite foods were reportedly shark-fin soup, salo, and dog-meat soup, which he believed gave him immunity and virility. He was also said to be Hennessy's biggest customer.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants

Kim Jong Il

He had a team of women make sure all the rice grains served to him were identical.

Dinner etiquette: He reportedly had a sizable team of women make sure every single grain of rice that was served to him was identical in size, shape, and color.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants,Britannica

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian and by the end of his life ate only mashed potatoes and broth.

Foods of choice: Hitler's vegetarianism has been attributed to ideological reasons, but it also may have been motivated by his belief that a meatless diet would relieve his chronic flatulence and constipation. By the end of WWII, Hitler ate only mashed potatoes and clear broth.

Adolf Hitler

He had a team of 15 food tasters. If none of them dropped dead after 45 minutes, then the food would be considered OK to eat.

Dinner etiquette: Hitler was so paranoid of being poisoned by his food that he had a team of 15 food tasters. Only if none of them dropped dead after 45 minutes would the dictator eat.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants

Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin loved traditional Georgian cuisine.

Gozinaki is a traditional Georgian confection made of caramelized nuts, usually walnuts, and fried in honey.

Foods of choice: Stalin was fond of traditional Georgian cuisine, which features walnuts, garlic, plums, pomegranates, and wines.

Joseph Stalin

One of Stalin's personal chefs was Vladimir Putin's grandfather, Spiridon Putin.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at a private dinner party to celebrate Churchill's 69th birthday.US Government photo

Dinner etiquette: He enjoyed power-play drinking games and elaborate six-hour dinners prepared by personal chefs, one of whom was Russian President Vladimir Putin's grandfather, Spiridon Putin.

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini loved garlic and thought French food was "worthless."

Foods of choice: Mussolini preferred a simple salad of roughly chopped garlic drenched with oil and fresh lemon juice. He thought French food was "worthless."

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants

Benito Mussolini

Mussolini liked to eat at home with his family. Everyone had to be seated before his arrival.

Dinner etiquette: Mussolini preferred to eat his meals at home with his wife, Rachele, and their five children. A typical meal in the Mussolini household was punctual, with everyone seated and served at the table before his arrival.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining TyrantsBusiness Insider

Idi Amin

Idi Amin reportedly ate up to 40 oranges a day and enjoyed KFC while in exile in Saudi Arabia.

Foods of choice: Idi Amin loved roast goat, cassava, and millet bread. He reportedly ate as many as 40 oranges a day, believing they were "nature's Viagra." There were also rumors of Amin being a cannibal.

Later, when he was living in exile in Saudi Arabia, he reportedly loved to feast on pizza and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants

Idi Amin

For a while, Amin loved all things British, including afternoon tea.

Ugandan dictator Idi Amin eating a piece of roast chicken at Koboko, Uganda, while watching a parade on the 7th anniversary of his military coup.Getty Images

Dinner etiquette: For a while, Idi Amin loved all things British and reportedly enjoyed afternoon tea.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining TyrantsBusiness Insider

Pol Pot

Pol Pot liked cobra stew.

Foods of choice: Pol Pot enjoyed venison, wild boar, snake, fresh fruit, brandy, and Chinese wine. He also reportedly liked cobra stew.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants

Pol Pot
He enjoyed luxurious meals while peasants were allowed only rice soup.

Dinner etiquette: Pol Pot enjoyed luxurious meals while those suffering under his regime were allowed only water with a sprinkle of rice grains.

Nicolae Ceaușescu

Nicolae Ceaușescu liked vegetarian lasagnas and simple salads.

Foods of choice: Ceaușescu liked vegetarian lasagna topped off with an egg beaten into sour cream, Romanian-style carp in aspic, and simple tomato, onion, and feta salads with steak.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants

Nicolae Ceaușescu

Ceaușescu would throw the food served to him at formal events onto the floor and kick it as far as possible.

Dinner etiquette: Ceaușescu notoriously avoided eating food that was not properly screened. He would throw the food served to him at formal events onto the floor and kick it as far as possible.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants,Britannica

Francisco Macias Nguema

Francisco Macías Nguema liked tea made out of the female cannabis plant and root bark with hallucinogenic properties.

Foods of choice: He liked bhang, a tea made from the leaves of the female cannabis plant, and iboga, a root bark with hallucinogenic properties.

Francisco Macias Nguema

There were rumors Nguema was a cannibal who collected skulls in his fridge.

Dinner etiquette: Not much is known about Nguema's dining habits. There were, however, rumors he was a cannibal who collected skulls in his refrigerator.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants

François Duvalier

Haitian ruler François "Papa Doc" Duvalier's wife had to spoon-feed him by the end of his reign because of his many ailments.

Foods of choice: Nothing hearty. He was already diabetic and had heart problems and arthritis by the time he was in power in the late 1950s. By his last year, 1971, his wife had to spoon-feed him.

Source: Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants

François Duvalier

Duvalier's "idea of after-dinner entertainment involved a descent to a dungeon ... to watch through a spy-hole while his enemies were being tortured."

Dinner etiquette: "His idea of after-dinner entertainment involved a descent to a dungeon whose walls were painted a blood red, to watch through a spy-hole while his enemies were being tortured," according to Clark and Scott.

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Related: 22 brutal dictator's you've probably never heard of.

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