We learn in the foreword that author Andrew Caldwell owned his own “little hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” where he was able to combine his love of food and history by throwing themed cocktail parties to celebrate “the likes of Attila the Hun and Davy Crockett.” These soirees were the inspiration for Their Last Suppers, which covers the diets and deaths of a seemingly random assortment of famous folk such as John Candy and Leonidas, King of Sparta (480 B.C.)
Now, apparently Rasputin (one of my favorite historical dudes) not only horrified St. Petersburg nobles with his “sinister power and advocacy of sexual ecstasy” but also had a weakness for sturgeon in champagne sauce. His last meal, especially notable because it was poisoned, included honeyed cakes, Madeira, soup, and zakuski—a.k.a. Russian small plates (recipes are included in the book).
Here is a simple recipe for the soup that Rasputin probably ate on the fateful night he was poisoned, shot, and then drowned in the freezing Neva River.
Adapted from Their Last Suppers
2 small whole cod
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Cut fish into 2-inch pieces; add milk and cream. Simmer gently, without boiling, until fish is tender. Season and serve with toasted bread.