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Archive for Desserts

RECIPE: Baked Churros

You don’t have to wait until Cinco de Mayo to make a batch of churros.

But this lesser-guilt recipe for baked churros (instead of fried), from The Baker Chick, is reason enough to serve them anytime.

The recipe is below, but first:

THE HISTORY OF CHURROS

According to Fox News Latino, churros evolved from a Chinese cruller* (youtiao). Portuguese sailors discovered them them on their Far East voyages, which reached China in the early 16th century.

They brought the recipe home with them. The recipe spread to Spain, and the Spanish improved on the concept by passing the dough through a star-shaped tip prior to frying.

In addition to the eye appeal, the signature ridges created by the tip turned out to be superior for holding dipping sauces: an improvement over the original.

The name may have derived from the Spanish word for coarse or rough, churro. Certainly, these fried, ridged pastries were rougher than the finer works of pastry chefs.

The churros were dusted in cinnamon and sugar, and dipped in chocolate sauce, and enjoyed at breakfast with café con leche or hot chocolate, the latter also developed in Spain in the 16th century.

Churros arrived in what is now Mexico in the 16th century, via the Spanish conquistadors.

While traveling from country to country, the churro was enhanced, from guava-filled churros in Cuba, the dulce de leche-filled churros in Mexico and cheese-filled churros in Uruguay.

Dulce de leche, a popular sauce for churros, was invented in Argentina in the 19th century. The first historical reference to the Argentinian dessert comes from a peace meeting between military leaders in 1829.

According to legend, dulce de leche was produced by accident when the maid was cooking some milk and sugar and was unexpectedly called away. Upon her return, the mixture had transformed into a thick, brown consistency (not very different from caramel sauce, which is made with sugar, cream and butter).

The “new dessert” was called dulce de leche, a milk sweet [confection]. Today it is usually made with sweetened condensed milk (which did not exist at the time).

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*The Chinese cruller, youtiao, also popular in, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

†There is also a story about nomadic Spanish shepherds developing churros while tending their flocks in the mountains. There are breeds of Spanish sheep called the navajo-churro and the churra, the horns of which are said to look similar to the fried pastry. If the shepherds did mak4e churros, it was more likely after they spread through Spain.
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RECIPE: BAKED CHURROS

Ingredients For 18-20 Churros

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs‡
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup cinnamon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (or cooking spray)
  • Optional dipping sauce(s): chocolate sauce or fondue, dulce de leche, caramel sauce
  •  
    Plus

  • Piping bag with large star tip
  •    

    Churros With Chocolate Fondue

    Churros In Doily

    Churros In Basket

    [1] Churros, shown here with fruit dippers and spicy chocolate fondue (here’s the recipe from McCormick).[2] Two ways to serve churros: nicely arranged in a doily at Soccarat Paella Bar in New York City, and [3] in a basket, at King Arthur Flour.

     

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    ‡If you don’t have large eggs, use what you have but aim for 2/3 cup of egg. A larger amount could yield more watery dough.

     

    Baked Churros Recipe

    Baked Churros Recipe

    [4] and [5] Churros made with this recipe from The Baker Chick.

       
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

    2. REMOVE from the heat add the flour; stir to combine. The mixture will thicken and start to resemble the texture of mashed potatoes.

    3. LEAVE the dough in the saucepan, but beat it on low with a hand mixer, adding one egg at a time and mixing well before adding another. After adding each egg, the mixture will become wet and glossy, but after mixing on high for a few seconds it will thicken again. When all the eggs are are combined…

    4. ADD the vanilla. The dough will be thick and starchy, still with a similar texture to mashed potatoes. Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Lightly spray a cookie sheet and pipe 6-inch rows of the dough with at least 1 inch between each churro.

    5. BAKE in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven, brush the warm churros with melted butter or spray lightly, and place in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and shake the dish to make sure they are well-coated.

    Churros are best enjoyed warm. If they cool to room temperature, give them 30 seconds in the microwave.
     
     
    MORE CHURROS RECIPES

  • Chocolate Churros REcipe
  • Churros With Three Chiles Fondue (Spicy Fondue)
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Plate Decorating With Sauce

    Octopus With Swirled Sauce

    Lava Cake With Sauce

    Squeeze Bottles

    Dessert Sauce Squeeze Bottles

    [1] These “flowers” are simply polka dots pulled together with a toothpick (see the video below; photo courtesy Gardenia | NYC). [2] Any food that isn’t made in a sauce can be decorated (photo courtesy Shalit Foods). [3] Keep your favorite sauces in the fridge, ready to squeeze (photo courtesy Pure Joy Concepts). [4] You can buy sauces or make them (photo courtesy Melissa’s).

     

    When you get your food at a good restaurant and the chef has made beautiful chevrons, flowers or hearts from the sauce, are you impressed?

    If so, know that some of these are so easy, that all you need are a couple of squeeze bottles and a toothpick or skewer to make them at home.

    In fact, the hardest thing to do is to decide which sauces to use with your dish.

    So watch the video below, or plenty more on YouTube under “sauce decoration.”

  • Start with polka dots of sauce before moving into more complex designs.
  • Look for the color impact as well as the flavors when you select sauces.
  • The lists below are just guidelines. You can use whatever goes through a squeeze bottle (but steer clear of sauces with inclusions—bits of dill, mustard seeds, etc.).
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    SAVORY SAUCES

  • Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) or other flavored mayonnaise 
  • Alfredo (parmesan) or other cheese sauce
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Cream sauce (plain, basil, curry, ginger, tomato, wasabi, etc.)
  • Hoisin or plum sauce
  • Horseradish sauce
  • Lemon sauce
  • Mustard sauce
  • Ranch sauce
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Vegetable coulis*
  • Yogurt-based (e.g. garlic-yogurt sauce)
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    SWEET SAUCES

  • Berry coulis*
  • Butterscotch/caramel sauce
  • Chocolate/white chocolate/mint chocolate sauce
  • Cinnamon sauce sauce
  • Coffee/mocha
  • Custard/crème anglaise
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Kiwi coulis
  • Lemon or other citrus sauce
  • Mango coulis
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Yogurt-based (e.g. honey-yogurt sauce)
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    *Coulis (COO-lee) is a sauce made from puréed and strained vegetables or fruits (i.e., no seeds remain).

     
    This video shows three easy techniques for both sweet and savory sauces.


     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Baked Hot Chocolate

    Baked Hot Chocolate

    Baked Hot Chocolate With Marshmallows

    Fancy Baked Hot Chocolate

    [1] Baked hot chocolate: a new texture experience (photo by F. Martin Ramin courtesy Wall Street Journal). [2] Prefer marshmallows? Pile them on (photo courtesy Framed Cooks). [3] You can use the same recipe for an elegant dessert like this (photo courtesy Fabulous Foods).

     

    What’s baked hot chocolate?

    Substitute butter and eggs for the milk, and stick it in the oven.

    O.K., it’s not really baked hot chocolate, but the name is fine. It’s not a brownie or cake, since it has no flour. The result is a mash-up of a brownie, a baked pudding and a chocolate soufflé. It’s cousin to a lava cake.

    The top layer is slightly crisp; the middle is pudding-like (similar to lava cake), and, at the bottom, you may find some hot chocolate. When served in a cup, the top covered with whipped cream or marshmallows, it is trompe l’oeil food fun.

    The recipe is said to have originated with Heidi Friedlander (now Robb), a pastry chef who first served it more than a decade ago at Moxie, a Cleveland bistro, where it is still the favorite dessert.

    The recipe ended up in The Essence of Chocolate cookbook by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg, founders of the Scharffenberger chocolate company (now part of Hershey). We adapted this recipe from theirs.

    Our favorite garnish is lightly-sweetened whipped cream with a teaspoon of orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier), bourbon or rum. Since there’s currently a Reddi-Wip shortage, you can use the opportunity to make your own whipped cream. It’s fun, and it tastes glorious.

    Our article on how to make whipped cream also has recipes for salted caramel, lavender and five spice whipped cream.
     
    RECIPE: BAKED HOT CHOCOLATE

    These treats-in-a-cup can be served warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream.

    These can be made a day in advance and refrigerated, ungarnished. To reheat, first bring to room temperature; then place in a 350°F oven until warm, about 5 minutes.

    Total prep/cook time is 40 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 9 ounces quality* bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (you can also use chips or chunks)
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon; for Mexican hot chocolate, combine them
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Garnish: whipped cream, lightly sweetened
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    *The finer the chocolate, the finer the flavor of the finished dish. You can chop up good chocolate bars.
     
    ALTERNATE GARNISHES

  • Crème fraîche, a sophisticated counterpoint
  • Crushed candy cane or striped peppermints
  • Ice cream
  • Mini marshmallows or marshmallow cream
  • Whipped cream (very lightly sweetened)
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place four eight-ounce ovenproof tea cups/coffee cups in a baking pan. If you don’t have ovenproof cups you can substitute ramekins or custard cups, but you lose the trompe l’oeil effect.

    2. MELT the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. The water in the bottom should be barely simmering; the underside of the top section should not touch the water. As it slowly melts, whisk or stir the chocolate occasionally. When fully melted, remove the top section of the double boiler and place the lid on the bottom section, to keep the water simmering. Stir the optional spices into the melted and set aside.

    3. PLACE the eggs and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl; then set bowl over the simmering water. Stir until warm to the touch (about 1 minute); then turn off the heat and remove the bowl to the counter.

    4. BEAT the egg mixture with an electric beater at high speed, until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Gently fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula.

    5. SPOON the batter into the cups. Add very hot water to baking pan, to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the tops lose their glossy finish and begin to look crusty: 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the cups from the pan and onto saucers. Top with whipped cream and serve immediately; or set aside and garnish when ready to serve. Serve with a spoon!

    For a marshmallow garnish: Sprinkle the marshmallows on top and return the cups to oven for 2 to 4 minutes, until the marshmallows or marshmallow cream begin to crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. You can sprinkle them with a bit of cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg or other favorite.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Quick Chocolate Dipping Sauce With Biscotti Or Ladyfingers

    If friends and neighbors are dropping by for some holiday cheer, here’s a very quick recipe for a delicious snack. It works well as a quick dessert, too.

    Keep biscotti around—they have a long shelf life—or ladyfingers, which freeze well and can be revived in a minute in the microwave. Then, in less than five minutes, make this chocolate dipping sauce.

    The combination goes with brandy, coffee, cola, fruity red wine, liqueurs, tea, and of course, a glass of milk.

    Cubed pound cake, amaretto cookies and/or sliced fruit are also delicious with the chocolate sauce. Chocoholics may prefer brownie cubes or fingers.

    The recipe makes enough for eight two-cookie servings. We turned to one of our favorite holiday snacks, Nonni’s Biscotti.

    As a bonus, Nonni’s isn’t rock-hard like conventional biscotti made for dipping in coffee or a dessert wine like vin santo. You don’t have to dip it…although don’t hesitate to follow the tradition.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE DIPPING SAUCE FOR

    This festive but easy recipe, which we adapted from Nescafé, is presented as individual servings.

    But if you have a fondue pot, chafing dish, brazier, or other way to keep the chocolate sauce warm, you can set it on a table with a platter of biscotti, ladyfingers and other cookies.

    Apple wedges and orange segments also works.

    Ingredients

  • 6 ounces chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coffee or orange liqueur (e.g. Kahlúa, Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 16 to 24 biscotti or ladyfingers
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Optional: cayenne for a bit of heat
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT. Place chocolate and cream in a medium, microwave-safe dish. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 60 seconds. Stir with whisk until smooth.

    2. COMBINE. Whisk in liqueur and coffee granules until coffee is dissolved.

    3. ASSEMBLE. Divide the chocolate sauce among 8 small dessert dishes or whatever you have: brandy snifters, ramekins, rocks glasses, small wine glasses, tea cups, etc). Place 2 to 3 ladyfingers to each glass. Serve immediately.

    Alternative: Use a plate under the dish and put the biscotti on the plate.

    Tip: Serve with espresso spoons so everyone can scoop up the remaining chocolate sauce.
     
    Find more of our favorite desserts.
     
    ABOUT NONNI’S BISCOTTI

    Nonni’s Biscotti is the number one-selling biscotti brand in the U.S.

    Whether for a coffee break, snack or part of dessert, we’ve been enjoying Nonni’s since they came onto the market in 2012. There are flavors for everyone, plus special holiday editions.

     

    Dipping Biscotti

    Nonnis Biscotti

    Hot Chocolate With Biscotti

    [1] Warm chocolate dipping sauce with biscotti or ladyfingers: a quick and easy snack or dessert. Photo and recipe courtesy Nescafé. [2] Dip from a tea cup or whatever you have (photo courtesy Feast And Fable Blog. [3] Instead of gingerbread men, serve hot chocolate with Nonni’s holiday biscotti. Don’t want hot chocolate? The biscotti are great with coffee, brandy and liqueurs (photo courtesy Nonni’s). [4] Pick up a few boxes and treat family and friends (photo | THE NIBBLE).

     
    Nonni means “grandmother” in certain Italian dialects (nonna is mainstream Italian). As you might guess, the founder’s nonni came from Italy (almost a century ago), bringing the family recipe with her.

    Nonni never envisioned or Salted Caramel (our personal favorite) or Turtle Pecan biscotti; but thankfully, her grandson did. There are eight flavors, plus seasonal specialties like Gingerbread and Pumpkin Spice.

    There are also five flavors (including cranberry) of Nonni’s ThinAddictives, a lower-calorie option.
     

    CHECK OUT THE HISTORY OF BISCOTTI.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Dutch Baby Instead Of Pancakes

    Plain Dutch Baby

    Raspberry & Chocolate Dutch Babies

    Lemon Blueberry Dutch  Baby

    Dessert Dutch Baby

    [1] The original Dutch Baby: cinnamon, vanilla and a touch of powdered sugar (photo courtesy In My Red Kitchen). [2] From breakfast to dessert: Raspberry Dutch Baby and Chocolate Dutch Baby (photo courtesy The Modern Proper. [3] Lemon Blueberry Dutch Baby (photo courtesy Camille Styles). [4] A dessert Dutch Baby with all the fixings (photo courtesy Donal Skehan

     

    Have extra house guests for the holidays? Kids home from school? Everybody expecting a leisurely breakfast?

    Rather than flipping pancakes, why not make a Dutch Baby, a multi-portion pancake that’s baked in the oven, no flipping required.

    WHAT’S A DUTCH BABY?

    A Dutch Baby is an airy, popover-type breakfast pancake made first in a skillet, then in the oven.

    You can cook it in a cast iron skillet, or in a special pan that does duel duty for Dutch Babies and paella (plus all these uses for a paella pan).

    The sides puff up and are crisp like a popover the traditional accompaniment of lemon wedges which get squeezed all over the top.

    You can add maple or other fruit syrup, lemon wedges and/or zest, butter and a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar—or all of them.

    You can pair spices with ingredients; for example, an apple Dutch Baby with apple pie seasonings. The fruit can be a topping or diced and added to the batter.

    They are typically sweet, but you can omit the sugar and a savory version, topped with ratatouille, leftover stew, taco fixings, etc. (see our article on savory pancakes).

    You can see the variety in the photos.

    The basic recipe includes eggs, flour, sugar and milk, usually with vanilla and cinnamon. Seasonal fruits are popular additions, as are citrus and chocolate.

    Yes, you can add chocolate sauce or other dessert sauce, fruit and whipped cream, mascarpone or crème fraîche for a dessert Dutch Baby. Frankly, we know more than a few people who’d eat this combination for breakfast (more on chocolate pancakes).

    THE HISTORY OF THE DUTCH BABY

    The pancake is neither Dutch nor Pennsylvania Dutch, Deutsch (German), but created in Seattle at the turn of the 20th century. It has roots in small, thin crepe-like German pancakes, garnished with powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon wedge; and the Apfelpfannkuchen, German pancakes made in a large plate size.

    According to Sunset magazine, Dutch Babies were introduced in the first half of the 1900s at Manca’s Cafe in Seattle, a popular spot that opened around 1902 and closed in the 1950s (here’s the history). The cafe was owned by Victor Manca, but we don’t know who provided the inspiration to adapt a German-style pancake.

    History says that the name Dutch Baby was coined by one of Victor Manca’s daughter, who may have transformed “Deutsch baby” into big Dutch Baby.

    The Dutch baby is a specialty of some diners and chains that specialize in breakfast dishes, such as the Oregon-founded The Original Pancake House or the New England-based chain Bickford’s, which makes both a plain Dutch baby and a similar pancake known as the Baby Apple, which contains apple slices embedded in the pancake. It is often eaten as a dessert.

    Thanks to Good Eggs for this recipe, which we adapted slightly and made with a variety of different toppings.
     
    RECIPE: DUTCH BABY WITH FRUIT & RICOTTA

    Ingredients For 3 Servings
    A good template for the batter is 1/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup milk/otherliquid per egg.

  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pears or apples, thinly sliced (substitute bananas or other fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • A few pinches ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • Maple syrup
  • Optional: lemon or orange zest
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    GENERAL TOPPINGS

    Take a basic (plain) Dutch Baby recipe and add your choices of:

  • Fresh fruit: berries, bananas, whatever
  • Fruit curd, marmalade or preserves
  • Powdered sugar
  • Chocolate sauce other dessert sauce or fruit purée
  • Coconut, toasted nuts, raisins or other dried fruit (we particularly like cherries and cranberries)
  • Dairy: mascarpone, ricotta, hand-whipped cream (i.e., not from a can)
  • Syrup
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    HERE’S A VIDEO OF THE PROCESS

     

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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Combine the flour, eggs, vanilla, salt, milk and a pinch of cinnamon in a mixing bowl and whisk until the ingredients and well-incorporated (i.e. no flour lumps).

    2. MELT half of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted, add the fruit, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. If you have a lemon or orange zest, it adds pizzazz. Use a teaspoon or whatever you feel comfortable with.

    3. STIR gently to coat the pears and cook them over low heat for about 5 minutes. When the pears have softened a bit, drain the butter but keep the fruit in the pan. Then turn up the heat to high add the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Swish the butter all over the pan—sides included—so that the entire inside surface is covered.

    4. POUR the batter over the fruit and slide the pan into the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until that baby is quite puffed up and golden brown. It falls soon after removed from the oven, so be ready to serve immediately. While the pancake is cooking…

    4. SET the garnishes on the table so participants can help themselves quickly.

     
    MORE DUTCH BABY RECIPES

  • Chocolate Dutch Baby With Whipped Cream
  • Chocolate, Raspberry & Hazelnut Dutch Baby
  • Dutch Baby With Fig, Pomegranate & Honeycomb
  • Dutch Baby with lemon sugar (a classic preparation)
  • Savory Dutch Baby With Goat Cheese, Avocado & Asparagus
  • The Original Dutch Baby, just cinnamon and vanilla
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    THE HISTORY OF PANCAKES

    People have been eating pancake-like foods for a very long time. According to Alan Davidson in the Oxford Companion to Food, the first mention of anything other than bread baked on a griddle is the oldest surviving cookbook, De Re Coquinaria (“On Cookery) by Apicius*.

    The book describes “cakes” made from a batter of eggs, milk, water and flour. They were fried and served with honey and pepper.

    Archaeologists have discovered grains on 30,000-year-old grinding tools, suggesting that Stone Age man might have been eating grains mixed with water and cooked on a hot rock.

    While the result not have looked like the modern crepe, hotcake, or flapjack, the idea was the same: a flat cake, made from batter and fried.

    Ancient Greeks and Romans ate pancakes topped with honey, and a Greek reference mentions toppings of cheese and sesame as well.

     

    Savory Goat Cheese Dutch Baby

    Dutch Baby In Cast Iron Skillet

    Dutch  Baby Pan

    [5] A classic Dutch Baby with lemon (photo courtesy Epicurious). [6] You can use your cast iron skillet to make a Dutch —10″ diameter or larger (photo courtesy Simply Recipes). [7] A Dutch Baby/paella pan from Norpro.

     

    These foods were not called pancakes, but the first mention of “pancake” in an English dictionary dates to the 16th century: a cake made in a pan.

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Flat as a pancake” has been a catchphrase since at least 1611.

    For the rest of the pancake’s journey to modern times, head to National Geographic.

    And remember to celebrate National Pancake Day on September 26th.
     
    MORE PANCAKE HISTORY

  • We love this article from National Geographic, and recommend it as a short read on the history of pancakes.
  • Here’s more on the history of pancakes.
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    *“Apicius” is believed to be the pseudonym of one or several writers who authored the book. The manuscript of some 400 recipes is believed to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century C.E. Why the name Apicius? It had long been associated with gourmet preferences, named after Marcus Gavius Apicius, a wealthy Roman merchant and epicure who lived in the 1st century C.E. He is said to have once sailed all the way to Libya to eat some much-praised prawns, only to return home without having found any to his satisfaction. He hosted colossal banquets, which eventually drove him to bankruptcy…and suicide.

      

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