This is one in a series of stories; visit The Daily Meal Special Report: The Quest for Longevity (and What Food Has to Do With It) for more.
There is something fascinating about last meals. Eating is something we do multiple times on a daily basis; it is what gives us life. Surround yourself with chefs, cooks, and culinarily inclined guests at a dinner party, and you may very well be presented with a particular question: “What would you want for your last meal on earth?” Some will choose indulgent dishes like oysters, lobster, and foie gras, while others will instead favor comfort foods from their childhood or simple dishes from home, like spaghetti pomodoro, steak, and mashed potatoes, mom’s meatloaf, or homemade biscuits.
In reality, very few people — at least those who aren’t on Death Row — actually have the opportunity to choose their last meals before they die. When you learn the last meals of people who died suddenly, it can add eeriness to otherwise mundane foods. Was the dish the cause of their death? Was it a special occasion? Was it an odd combination of dishes? Maybe the fascination with the idea of the last meal is that is gives us insight into an otherwise unknown area of life. Few people would be interested in the daily breakfast, lunch, or dinner of somebody who remains alive — but after death, characters are often mythologized and looked at under a new light. Knowing that Julia Child had French onion soup just before she died certainly emphasizes and even enhances the role she was so famous for as an American cook and writer popularizing French cuisine in the United States.
Read on and discover the last meals eaten by 22 famous people throughout history. Will they surprise you, or will they reinforce famous reputations?