So, Movie Tavern Mug, what sort of question have we got tonight?
"If you could make three meals for three historical figures, who would you pick and what would you make for each one?"
Interesting question, and my answer is: it depends. See, there can be a wide array of definitions for the term "historical figure." After all, history isn't just some force that other people cause to happen: each of us, in our own little ways, leave our own marks upon history. "For want of a nail," y'know?
But, even if we tighten our definition a little bit, who do we include? Do we only include political and religious figures? How do we define those terms? After all, a variety of musicians had a deep impact on politics over the years. Even local restaurant owners had arguable impacts on the laws of a nation at different points (lookin' at you, Hot Doug's in Chicago). So, who do we include?
Well, after some thought, I decided to go with a somewhat tighter definition, limited to people you're likely to see in some sort of history textbook somewhere. While you might not have heard of all my picks, they're somehow important politically somewhere.
Also, while most people I know would've picked people that they think they share beliefs with, most of my picks are people who were just interesting to learn about for one reason or another.
#1: Gen. Robert E. Lee
"Oh God, J.K., you're a horrible racist and an evil secessionist and you're a Southern White Devil and-"
First of all, what did I JUST say? Second of all, Robert E. Lee didn't lead the Confederate Army out of some issue of race: he did it because Virginia, the state which had the Confederate Capital, was his home. It was not a decision he made lightly; he did it out of a sense of duty to the people he cared about. Can we really fault him for that? And while I could lecture you about how the whole slavery issue was just a secondary point to the war, that would be getting a bit off topic.
So, the American Civil War was something I grew up with a LOT of exposure to. I lived on the Chancellorsville Battlefield for most of my life, got Lee Jackson King Day off from school, regularly passed by Shrines to Stonewall Jackson, and made many field trips to Downtown Fredericksburg. Yeah, definitely ran across the American Civil War. And this is probably part of my Virginian upbringing, but the Union seemed to lack that sort of charismatic "hero" figure (aside from Lincoln, who is controversial at best once you leave Middle School or so). On the flipside, you'll find many a good ol' Southern Boy who will shed a tear in honor of Robert E. Lee.
I'd like to take this time to remind you folks I was born in Connecticut.
Anyway, because of his persistence against nearly overwhelming odds, fighting with a grossly under equipped army, all out of a desire to protect love ones, Lee gets a meal. What will I make him? Pork loin stuffed with cinnamon apples, with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans. Why? Pork was (and still is, to an extent) a Southern staple, and this is a take on it that I enjoy making. It isn't exactly the height of high cuisine, but hopefully, the General would appreciate it.
#2 Tokugawa Ieyasu
Right about now, most of my readers are probably going, "Who?" Brief history lesson time: Japan was, for a very long time, a Warrior based feudal society, centralized around an Emperor who is said to be descended from the Sun Goddess Amaterasu (and if I butchered the spelling or mythology, I apologize sincerely). Of course, running that sort of massive warrior based society can be hard work, so often the Emperor would delegate to an important Daimyo (upper level feudal lord) who would be appointed to handle military matters. This position was called the Shogun, and it became more or less hereditary. Well, since all the nobility were the soldiers, this could essentially make an ambitious Shogun the de facto ruler of Japan. So yeah, generally a good position to find yourself in.
Throughout history, there were three major Shogun Dynasties. This guy was the start of number three, and he was a magnificent bastard, and one of those badass decadent rulers we all love. He had many wives and concubines, many children, was known to go around swimming naked for fun, was an avid falconer...and became the effective ruler of Japan, having a Dynasty that lasted from the lat 1500s up until the Meiji Restoration in the 1860s. If you've ever read the book Shogun, the character of Toranaga is loosely based upon him, and a lot of the actions he took are based on real ones he made in his quest to consolidate power.
What would I make him? Well, in his time period, meat is taboo, but fish is fair game. I'd probably go for a seafood jambalaya, with shrimp, salmon, and maybe some crab meat in there, prefacing it by saying that it is a delicacy in a region overseas, and that we apologize humbly if it is not to his liking.
3. Grigori Rasputin
Okay, so back many years ago when I took European History, we had a lot of fun learning about a wide range of historical figures, and finding the most bizarre takes of them (there was at least half an hour spent on strange theories about what make Adolf Hitler tick). NONE of them were enjoyed by the males of the class as much as Rasputin. For part of that lesson, we watched a movie based around the end of the Romanov rein. Can't remember the name of it. I can, however, remember our reaction.
"HOLY CRAP HE'S THE _____ING TERMINATOR! WHY WON'T HE DIE?"
So he's got that going for him. Plus, there's the whole drinking and whoring bit that would probably make for an entertaining meal. And then there's even the mystical angle to him. Yep, he gets a meal out of this. But what?
Well, first of all, there would be vodka. And wine. And Scotch. And Bourbon. And Rum. Y'know what? Open bar. Okay, that settles that part of it. But what else?
Well, it would probably be a lot of hand food, so he could run around and do his thing while eating: plates of sliders, wings, fudge, snickerdoodles, Chinese Cheesecakes (thank you Guy's Big Bite for that dessert), Jamaican Beef Patties, a wide variety of sausage inna bun...pretty much a whole mess of things he could pick up in one hand while he grabbed some whores in his other.
Of course, I have a few runner ups who didn't fit into my "History Text" definition.
The Late, Great, Moon the Loon. This drummer for the Who was renowned for his out of control antics as much as he was for his drumming ability. My favorite Muppet, Animal, was reportedly loosely based on Moon. While he wasn't the best musician of the Who (I'd personally argue John "the Ox" Entwistle for that, despite the fact that Pete Townshend was the main songwriting force), he definitely contributed a lot of personality to the group, and added a lot to the sound.
What would I make him? That's easy. His last words were supposedly him chewing out his girlfriend for not making him steak and eggs before he went to sleep for the last time. Well, I'd get him his last meal.
As for my other runner up, well, that'll be addressed in my next blog, because someone conveniently asked me a question that it works well for.
So until next time, this is J. K. Lantern, signing off!