Famous Feasts in History Persian King Darius

About the famous feast of King Darius history and description.


The Occasion: Darius holds a feast, Persia, c. 485 B.C.

The Host: Persian King Darius.

The Menu: A thousand animals were slaughtered for the table. These included camels (smoked camel hump being a favorite Persian dish), oxen, zebras, gazelles, stags, Arabian ostriches, geese, and gamecocks. There were great steaming bowls of pilaw (our pilaf), rice flavored with meat, nuts, spices, and fruits. Shish kebabs were made of mutton, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and seasoned with a special yogurt sauce. Eggplant was filled with a mixture of lamb. Baby lambs and chickens were stuffed with rice mixed with raisins, peas, or pine nuts. Desserts included the flaky rich pastries that we know as baklava, mixed fruits, nuts, spices, and honey.

Table Talk: The guests even enjoyed sugar, brought by caravan from countries farther to the east and too expensive to be served by anyone but royalty. No wonder Darius was so wonderfully fat--a mark of status in those days--and guests may have commented on this. And it explained why he had more than 10,000 men traveling "all over the world" (in the words of the Greek historian Xenophon) seeking delectable food and wines for his table.

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