Marengo had a curious culinary epilogue, something that keeps its memory forever green. Durnand, Bonaparte’s cook, knew that the First Consul was bound to be famished after the long and hard-fought day. There was little food to be had, so foragers were sent out to scour the countryside. All that they could come up with was a scrawny chicken, four tomatoes, three eggs, a few crayfish, and a little garlic.
Durnand had to improvise, so he cut up the skinny fowl with a saber and fried it in olive oil, garlic, and a splash of cognac. The crayfish were also fried and placed on top of the chicken as a kind of garnish. When Bonaparte ate the dish, he found it so delicious he commanded it be served after every battle, or so the story goes. And thus was born Poulet á la Marengo, Chicken Marengo, an edible commemoration of a great battle.
This article by Eric Niderost first appeared in the Warfare History Network on August 5, 2015.