Thursday, June 9, 2011


This past week, yet another party (albeit unplanned) broke out of Corey Worthington proportions, when a German teenager unwittingly invited the world to her birthday party, only to have 1,400 to 1,600 people show up.

As admirable - and outright hilarious - as that and the Corey Worthington party were, they pale in comparison to the grand feasts of our time. According to Annia Ciezadlo's article, "Eat, Drink, Protest" in Foreign Policy, there have been much more epic parties and feasts that have gone down in history:

  • Ashurnaasirpal II, an Assyrian king whose empire covered Iraq, the Levant region of the Mediterranean, and portions of Turkey, Egypt and Iran, threw a housewarming party in 869 BC for his palace on the banks of the Tigris for 10 days, with close to 70,000 guests, and a menu that featured 2,200 head of cattle, 27,000 sheep and lambs, 1,000 stags and gazelles, 34,000 birds, 10,000 eggs, 10,000 fish, 10,000 jerboa (apparently an adorable little mouse-meets-kangaroo of sorts), 1,000 crates of vegetables, 300 jars of oil, 100 pistachio cones, 11,000 jars of beer, and 10,000 skins of wine;
  • al-Zahir, a 11th century Egyptian caliph celebrated Ramadan with 157 sculptures made entirely of sugar. Similarly, in 1040, a sultan used 73,000 kilos of sugar for giant sculptures of trees and a mosque, which were broken down and fed to beggars after the feast was over. At the time, sugar was one of the most precious commodities in the world; and
  • more recently, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a "victory kabob" featuring 21 feet of meat for, uh, his pals.
Of course, Ciezadlo's article isn't merely a synopsis of Kid & Play movies throughout history. Instead (and that last entry should've tipped you off), it's an engaging article about how giant feasts, food subsidies and other food-related devices have been used as propaganda, and as a way to control the general population, throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, both in the past and now. As Ciezadlo puts it:
We tend to speak of food in benevolent terms, as the social glue that binds us together. But in the wrong hands, food can be a weapon. A piece of meat can say: "I own you." Bread obligates. Generosity creates dependence. The Romans were not the first rulers to rely on bread and circuses to prolong their rule, and they won't be the last...Food's persuasive hold over loyalty has its limits, but in the long tradition of Middle Eastern food imperalism, those limits have been reached on very few, and very brief, occasions.
Read the full article here.

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