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"Traditional Georgian feasting lent itself perfectly to the sort of lethal power-play which helped to maintain him in power. A Georgian toastmaker – a tamada – at first controls his fellow diners’ access to alcohol by the length of his opening speech, and thereafter too by ensuring that more and more is drunk to prevent any injury to the host’s pride in his hospitality. Drinking games – Guess the Temperature was one of Stalin’s favourites – reduced many guests to his Kuntsevo dacha outside Moscow or one of his many summer residences to vomiting, incontinent wrecks..."
"However pressing affairs of state or extra-marital love, Mussolini ate lunch and dinner at home, with Rachele and their five children. Always punctual, he liked everyone else to be seated and ready by the time he arrived. He presided over a long oval table, encouraging stimulating discussion and airing of opinions. The long, formal meals at the royal palace as the guest of King Victor Emmanuel III were something he abhorred."
"As his paranoia increased so too did his methods of self- preservation. Poisoning was an obvious hazard and so Saddam employed numerous food tasters as well as using prisoners as back-up. And before ever the food tasters got to it, all food was x-rayed for radiation poisoning. He was furious when his favourite son, Uday, one day clubbed to death his favourite food taster in a fit of rage..."
"As his oppressive reign progressed and he compared notes with fellow dictators – specifically, Fidel Castro who confided an attempt had once been made to poison him by way of his boots – Ceausescu’s terror of being poisoned intensified. By the 1980s it had become a full-blown paranoia: he was never wearing the same clothes twice and compulsively rinsing his hands in medical alcohol..."