“History chef” Andrew Caldwell has hacked through the jungles of Guatemala, stood in King Tut’s tomb and now lives part of the year in Egypt, “up the road from the pyramids.”
He has written three volumes titled “Their Last Suppers: Legends of History and Their Final Meals.” ($19.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing)
The first is available now. Check out Caldwell’s History Chef website here.
It features the last repasts of 21 famous people, from Martin Luther King to Napolean Bonaparte (who graces the book’s cover). There’s Alexander the Great and John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Elvis and Hitler.
It is the last meal of Julius Caesar that will bring Caldwell to the Lower Hudson Valley next week. On Aug. 23, he’ll sign copies of his book and discuss the meal.
The occasion is a one-night-only performance of “Julius Caesar” at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. The production, featuring the festival’s apprentices and interns, benefits HVSF’s year-round educational program.
“Alexander and Cleopatra would have really big feasts, so it’s impossible to know exactly what they put in their kisser,” Caldwell says. But there’s a record of what Caesar ate that night before the Ides of March in 44 B.C.
“He ate at the home of Senator Marcus Lepidus,” he says. “There was a banquet with 30 other senators, half of whom were going to kill him the next day. But they had it written down, what they were eating: Steamed lamb, big shrimp and mussels.
“Caesar was a fitness fanatic,” he says. When he was about 12, Caesar put a piece of string around his waist and he carried that string around the world with him. Any time his waist didn’t fit inside the string, he’d diet and exercise.
“He had lemon honey water for breakfast,” Caldwell says. “He was really disciplined in his food intake.”
Caldwell visited Boscobel earlier this summer. Like seasoned festivalgoers, he picnicked on the lawn before “The Taming of the Shrew.”
“I brought a bottle of the wine I make and, just in case it was my last supper, I had chicken piccata,” he says with a laugh.
“Whenever I’m out in public, I’m usually seen with caviar, just in case someone’s looking,” he says. “I can’t be seen with anything simple.”
What: Andrew Caldwell lecture and book signing, followed by a performance of “Julius Caesar”
When: Grounds open at 7:30 p.m. — no one admitted before then. 7:45 p.m. book-signing and wine-tasting; 8:15 p.m. lecture; 8:30 curtain for “Julius Caesar.”
Where: Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, at the Boscobel Restoration, Route 9D, Garrison.
Tickets: $30, $15 for students. Copies of Caldwell’s book for sale for $20.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Caldwell: The author lives part of the year not far from Egyptian pyramids.