Whether you are a die-hard vegan, a flaky vegetarian, a raw veg' muncher, an ardent lentil-nibbler, a committed carnivore or an "only on special occasions" cannibal, we all have dietary quirks and foodie foibles which - we hope - will make our lives longer, our bodies better, our souls sweeter and our brains... well... not as bunged-up, bungling and bumbling as it normally is.
But, how does your daily dietary requirements compare with some of the world's most powerful people? Murder Mile blog investigates the extremely odd diets of everyone from captains of industry, to sadistic serial-killers, to the world's most dangerous and deranged despots.
Adolf Hitler: Having always suffered from chronic flatulence, Adolf Hitler - an evangelical vegetarian - believed that a meat-free diet could cure this, along with numerous herbal remedies, which his famously quack-ish doctor Theodore Morrell tried to cure using extract of Bulgarian peasants' faeces. Being notoriously paranoid, Hitler had a fifteen strong team of female food tasters on hand at all times, who - only after they had survived a full 45 minutes after tasting his meal - would he allow any food to be served.
Idi Amin: Uganda's infamous dictator adored a simple goat stew, but his life was shrouded in a cloud of cannibalism after he was quoted saying “I don’t like human flesh… it’s too salty”, and cited by the cook of Jean Bedel Bokassa (Central African Republic) who prepared a human cadaver which was reputedly stuffed with rice and flambeed in gin. But then Idi Amin was an odd man, it is reported that he was so obsessed with HRH The Queen that he once sent her a letter asking for a pair of her knickers.
Nicolae Ceausescu: Whilst being hosted by other leaders, the Romanian Communist party boss insisted he would only drink raw vegetable juice through a straw and avoided all solids, but whilst relaxing at home he loved nothing more than a simple chicken stew, made with breast, beak, feet, the whole lot. Like Hitler, Ceausescu was notoriously paranoid and travelled with a chemist and a fully functioning food testing laboratory.
Benito Mussolini: Coming from peasant stock (as many dictators did), Mussolini loved nothing more than a big bowl of raw chopped garlic. So much so that his wife couldn’t sleep next to him after he’d eaten his favourite dish as the aroma was simply too overpowering. During WW2, a Nazi doctor examined Mussolini a declared that he was "dangerously constipated", meaning his stools were as likely to move forward as his tanks.
Muammar Gaddafi: A big fan of couscous and camel meat, Gaddafi was famously flatulent, as recounted in BBC journalist John Simpson's book - 'A Mad World: My Masters' - "I listened (to the recording of the interview). There was absolutely no doubt about it. The personal microphone which Bob had pinned on [Gaddafi] had picked it up very clearly. The wind passage lasted for about ten minutes of our half-hour interview. [Gaddafi] would rise up a little in his seat, the thunder would roll for fifteen or twenty seconds at a time, and then he would sink back into his seat with a pleased expression on his face".
Of course, if you're looking for a list of dictator's foodie favourites, including gastronomic gems such as that Saddam Hussein loved Raisin Bran and Mars Bars, and how Stalin was particular about the ripeness of bananas, click on this link.
But how different were these dictators to the world's most notorious serial killers, and especially to the cannibals - such as Jeffrey Dahmer - who dined on their victims? Were they ALL meat eaters? Well, as suspected most were meat eaters, but not to an extreme. Only Ted Bundy during his last few years in prison became a vegetarian (after his conversion to Hinduism), and often their eating habits were not listed. Although we do get a fascinating insight into the dietary desires of mass murders, by looking at the final death row meals they requested, courtesy of Henry Hargreaves.
But what if you're not a murderous dictator, or a sadistic serial killer, do you dine on a ominously ordinary dinner just like a regular Joe Blow, or are you as equally messed-up when you masticate a midnight feast of fois-gras and fish fingers on chocolate wafers? Well let's find out.
Mark Zuckerberg: CEO & Co-Founder of Facebook said in 2011 “this year I've basically become a vegetarian since the only meat I'm eating is from animals I've killed myself. So far, this has been a good experience. I'm eating a lot healthier foods and I've learned a lot about sustainable farming and raising of animals”. His diet regime lasted just one year.
Steve Jobs: Ironically - the man behind Apple - would famously eat just one single type of food (whether carrots or apples) for weeks on end, as he believed that his very restrictive vegan diet made sure his body was odour-free so he only had to bathe once a week.
Henry Ford: The automotive tycoon and mass-production pioneer saw his body just like a car's engine which needed fuel, so - never shopping in a grocery store - Ford instead ate the weeds straight from his garden, many of which ended up in sandwiches. Yum.
Charles Darwin: Explorer & originator of the theory of Evolution was so fascinated by every animal he discovered that he wanted to know what they all tasted like, and ate almost every type, including iguanas, armadillos, owls, rheas and (the almost extinct) giant tortoise. He was patron of the infamous Gourmet Club at Cambridge whose members attempt to eat as many rare animals as possible.
And - with it being Wimbledon at the time of writing this - here's one for you tennis fans. Although tennis ace Novak Djokovic dines solely on gluten-free products, and avoids caffeine, dairy and any refined sugars, he diet does stretch to the truly odd. In 2011, having beaten Rafael Nadal, he dropped to his knees and began munching on the grass of the Centre Court lawn, later commenting that it was "well kept" and that "I wanted to see how it tastes. It tastes good". Hmm. Weirdo.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 18 murderers, 3 serial killers, across 21 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime historian, writer and tour guide of Murder Mile Walks.