We are all likely familiar with Beethoven; either we know and love his music or have absorbed it indirectly through film and culture. Some might even know the lamentable story of the musician’s deafness. Those who like to delve a bit deeper into the peculiar proclivities of great artists of the past will know that Beethoven had a, let’s say, special temperament. He was easily impatient, he didn’t particularly like socializing, and he had very strict rituals and routines that, if he couldn’t follow precisely due to an unforeseen event, left him in a state of distress. One of these rituals was starting the day off with a cup of coffee.
First of all: coffee
Despite living in Vienna, whose cafés UNESCO considers a part of its cultural heritage, Ludwig preferred to make his own coffee. He used a technique that he had devised and perfected in Salzburg, in which he ground 60 coffee beans to make eight grams of ground coffee. He meticulously counted each bean every morning and placed them in a coffee pot that the composer himself had designed, with a receptacle similar to an Erlenmeyer flask, similar to current siphon coffee makers. (Despite this fact, coffee historians do not recognize Beethoven in the evolution of coffee making devices.)
Not just any pasta, not just any cheese
According to his official biography written by his former secretary, Beethoven’s favorite food was macaroni and cheese. Remember that both pasta and cheese were luxury goods during that time, with pasta imported from Naples, while cheese had to have a stamp certifying its Parmesan origins.
In letters to various lovers, he took the opportunity to tell them about Viennese food, and the luxuries to which he had access due his composing successes.
For Ludwig, the texture of food weighed heavily on his taste buds. He preferred white fish to beef or poultry, although he never turned down a good roast beef.
Another indispensable dish in the composer’s life and routine was haddock with potatoes in white wine sauce, which he tried for the first time during his stay with the Salzburg Orchestra (being the youngest member throughout his tenure). With a little less fervor, he was also fond of drowned egg soup, something he always requested with exactly 12 eggs. He preferred sweet wines over dry wines and was a big fan of beer.