The food that great artists loved

The food that great artists loved

AUTHOR:Dr. Alisa Palatronis
PUBLISHED:July 20, 2022
LENGTH:5 minutes (1078 words).

Food is a basic need of people. Even geniuses, feeding on divine inspiration, still eat some food. It is not much known about the menu of great artists, however, grain by grain, some info may be found from different sources. In general, some people (including great masters) pay close attention to their menu and consider food as one of the greatest pleasures, while others eat only to sustain life and can be satisfied with a piece of dry bread.

In the XXI century, the saying “You are what you eat” is well known and widely used. In the past, the relationship between food and a man would probably sound like this: “You eat what you can afford to buy.” However, one does not negate the other. Our food is a reflection of our choices and incomes.

As for example, for Salvador Dalí, food was never just a source of nourishment. For the artist, food was filled with social and political meanings that were subtle and often overlooked. Dalí used food as a root of symbolism and a metaphor for sex, pleasure, pain, and politics (1).

A Polish writer and a journalist Witold Szabłowski wrote a book about the food of the world’s dictators “How to Feed a Dictator: Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot Through the Eyes of Their Cooks.” Uncommon tasty topic, isn’t it?

In our previous post we already talked a bit about the food of great artists

In this article, let’s discover the menu of great artists of the past in detail!

Gioachino Rossini

Gioachino Antonio Rossini (Pesaro, Italy. February 29, 1792 – Passy, Paris, France, November 13, 1868 (aged 76)) was an Italian composer who gained fame for his 39 operas.

The food of Rossini (at the beginning of his carrier) included cooked rice (cooked for 15 min), cod paste, French pastries.

Rossini’s cooked rice is known as a “rice aria”, as once Rossini created an aria within 15 minutes, while waiting for the rice to be cooked for him by a houseman.

The food of Rossini (after his genius was recognized worldwide) included best sorts of pasta, pates, excellent vines like Château Lafite-Rothschild (provided by Rothschild himself!), fish sauce, meat sausages, stuffed pig’s feet, olive oil, high quality cheese. For breakfast: coffee with milk and chocolate, and preferably, a good portion of applause and “vivat” for Rossini.

Fruits may be mentioned in some info sources; however, they were mainly used as a decoration for Rossini’s banquets and receptions. Later his wife was returning them to the seller – the ultimate example of frugality regardless of the wealth available.

Due to his enormous popularity and recognition, Rossini enjoyed the most elaborate meals. Aristocracy, kings and the richest people considered it their honor to invite him to banquets, feasts, lunches and receptions, where the most elaborate food and drinks were served (2).

Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet (Paris, France, 14 November, 1840 – Giverny, France, 5 December, 1926 (aged 86)) was a French painter and founder of impressionist painting.

The food of Monet included aromatic Mediterranean herbs and vegetables, including rosemary, mint, tomatoes and asparagus. Périgord truffles and foie gras (specialty food product made of the liver of a duck or goose) from Alsace. Lobster, fish and duck. Garlicky ceps.

“A typical meal for Monet would have included a wonderful main course with fresh vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, or red cabbage. Cider (3,4).

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (Málaga, Spain, 25 October, 1881 – Mougins, France, 8 April, 1973 (aged 91)) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer.

The food of Picasso included fish, vegetables, grapes, and rice pudding. Mineral water or milk (5).

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh (Zundert, Netherland, March 30, 1853 – Auvers-sur-Oise, France, July 29, 1890 (aged 37) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who became one of the most influential and famous artist in the history of Western art.

The food of van Gogh included bread, coffee and tobacco were Van Gog’s staple diet. In February 1886, he wrote to Theo, his brother, that he could only remember eating six hot meals since the previous May (6).

Van Gogh indulged to an abnormal degree in various activities which undermined his health, such as constant smoking, drinking alcohol (including absinthe) and coffee to excess, and eating very poorly, even fasting at times (7).

Henry David Thoreau 

Henry David Thoreau (Concord, Massachusetts, U.S., July 12, 1817 – Concord, Massachusetts, U.S, May 6, 1862 (aged 44)) was an American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher.

The food of David Thoreau. He was not a strict vegetarian, though he said he preferred that diet and advocated it as a means of self-improvement. He wrote in Walden, “The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness; and besides when I had caught and cleaned and cooked and eaten my fish, they seemed not to have fed me essentially. It was insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came to. A little bread or a few potatoes would have done as well, with less trouble and filth” (8).

Salvador Dali

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquess of Dalí de Púbol gcYC (Figueres, Spain, May 11 1904 – Figueres, Spain, January 23 1989 (aged 85)) was a great Spanish surrealist artist.

The food of Salvador Dali included crayfish, bacon, eggs, sea urchins, bread, baguettes, cheese Camembert, wine, crustaceans flavored with parsley, tarragon, dill, lemon, tomato, black truffle, traditional Catalan pan. In Les Dîners de Gala, Dalí explained his love affair with crayfish, saying “I love all shellfish. Food that only a battle to peel makes it vulnerable to a conquest of our palate” (1,9,10).

Food like bacon, bread, Camembert, and crustaceans was often present in Dali’s paintings. Dali also published two cookbooks, mainly “Les dîners de Gala” in 1973 and “The Wines of Gala” in 1978.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, August 6, 1928 – New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, United States, February 22, 1987 (aged 59)), born Andrew Warhola Jr, was an American visual artist, film director, and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art.

from the silkscreen series “Ladies and Gentlemen”, 1975, by Andy Warhol

Illustration: from the silkscreen series “Ladies and Gentlemen”, 1975, by Andy Warhol

Image source:

The food of Warhol included meat, bread, fruit jam, and chocolate. 

Although Warhol did eat meat, he did not liked it. In his book “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again)”, he admitted that he used to order a “protein” dish in restaurants to satisfy the norms established in society that a man should eat meat. Warhol would rather spread jam on a slice of white bread and be happy with that. And the best pieces of meat bought for the same reasons ended up going to cats, dogs, and homeless people, whom he took care of in this way from time to time. Warhol was a sweet tooth (11).


  1. Salvador Dalí’s Surrealist Cookbook. Online source:
  2. Divine Maestro by Arnaldo Fraccaroli. Polish edition, 1977. Translated and published in Lithuania in 1982.
  3. The life and food of Monet. Online source:
  4. Dine with Claude Monet, No Time Machine Needed. Online source:
  5. From Picasso’s Rice Pudding to O’Keeffe’s Green Juice, the Favorite Snacks of Famous Artists. Online source:
  6. Vincent van Gogh. Artistic breakthrough. Online source:
  7. Health of Vincent van Gogh. Online source:,particular%2C%20he%20often%20drank%20absinthe.
  8. Henry David Thoreau. Online source:
  9. Salvador Dalí Was a Surrealist in the Kitchen, Too. Here’s How to Make One of His All-Time Craziest Dishes by Sarah Cascone. Online source:
  10. Salvador Dalí’s Surrealist Cookbook is Here for Your Acid-Fueled Dinner Parties by Stephen Heyman. Online source:
  11. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again) by Andy Warhol, published in 1975.

The end of the article. Below is the information about podcast platforms available for our articles, books written by Dr. Alisa Palatronis, and links to the disclaimer and usage policy.


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Photography book by Dr. Alisa Palatronis:

  • Rubbish Paradise (August 5, 2021). The art photography book about rubbish along the Baltic sea seaside. With funny and sad stories of eco-activists, statistics about pollution and much more.

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