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Napoleon Bonaparte

Ajaccio, 1769 – Sant'Elena, 1821

Life and History

Napoleon Bonaparte

Born into a family of refugees, Napoleon built his fortune with courage, an open mind and excellent character. He approached his military career with passion and will for redemption. His skill and ability led him in unimaginable directions.

From the age of 18 to 30, he climbed up in the ranks of his regiment and, at 35, declared himself the French Emperor. He generously divided his earnings between his family members and practically created a new regal family out of nothing. Napoleon was a valiant soldier and certainly a man of action, but he was also intelligent, able to create his own fortune. He changed the civil law in the countries he conquered in the name of France and created his Empire as a lay state through all types of reforms. His ideas and military actions were controversial, making him popular and unpopular, hated and adored.

The old European monarchies certainly feared him. In order to keep him calm and in control, they suggested he marry a descendent of the Hapsburg family. Napoleon accepted the offer because of his desire and need to secure his future with a son that could inherit all of his glory. Fortune, however, did not stay on his side.

His wife was unfaithful and those that feared him previously, took advantage him after his greatest failure – the invasion of Russia. Defeated, imprisoned, far from his family and son (who died young in the Court of Vienna), Napoleon eventually died from physical and moral pain, on a secluded island, far from the battlefields where he had first learned to fight.

The recipe


Chicken Marengo

The Battle Marengo was an important victory for Napoleon. He named his horse after the battle and even used the name to coin a new monetary unit. His chef created this recipe on the battlefield, using food he pilfered from a local farmer, and served it immediately after the battle was won. Napoleon enjoyed it so much that it became the dish he ate after every victory.

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 chicken
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 cup white wine
  • meat broth to taste
  • 18 fresh water shrimp
  • 6 eggs
  • crostini to taste
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley to taste

Preparation

Remove the skin from the tomatoes (leave them a few seconds in boiling water); cut into quarters and remove the insides.

Wash the chicken pieces then dry well. Brown in a pan with the oil over a high heat. Season with salt and pepper. When the chicken pieces are golden brown, remove from the pan, draining them of oil.

In the same pan, add the peeled tomatoes, the finely sliced onion, crushed garlic and white wine. Add a ladle of broth and allow to reduce. Finally add the chicken and let it absorb the flavours of the sauce.

Cook the shrimp in a little white wine, fry the eggs and arrange the dish as follows: place the chicken and sauce in the centre of the dish and arrange the fried croutons, eggs and shrimp around the edges.

Gastronomic Library
M. RINALDI, La storia è servita: vizi e virtù nel piatto dei grandi della storia, Milano, Golosia & C., 1996.