An Iconic Cook­book by an Iconic Artist

Jetgala - - CONTENT - by Kather­ine Arteche


THE WORLD OF­TEN WON­DERED WHETHER SAL­VADOR DALÍ WAS MAD. Many still do. He him­self was am­biva­lent on the sub­ject, some­times brag­ging that he was; at other times firmly deny­ing it. Not that it mat­tered much, as no­body ever sus­pected an or­di­nary per­son­al­ity be­hind paint­ings as off-the-wall and rad­i­cal as those he kept churn­ing out.

Dalí’s raised eye­brows and sig­na­ture pen­cil-thin mous­tache — the ‘Dalí style’ — added dra­matic flair to his per­sona. Dur­ing his prime in the 1930s, art, fash­ion and film sur­rounded the Span­ish painter, who gained fame and no­to­ri­ety through his work, The Per­sis­tence of Mem­ory. Yet, among his cir­cle, Dalí was known for more than de­pic­tions of melt­ing clocks and al­tered por­traits. To­gether with his wife, Gala, Dalí was an avid din­ner party host. These gath­er­ings be­came so fa­bled that he went on to cre­ate a cook­book, pub­lished in 1973, of which only around 400 copies sur­vived.

Now, Ger­man book pub­lisher Taschen has reprinted Les Dîners de Gala, the artist’s sur­re­al­ist cook­book, com­pris­ing 136 recipes of old-school French cui­sine. While most din­ner par­ties in the early 20th cen­tury were lively af­fairs, the Dalís took things fur­ther, of­ten giv­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion and sym­bol­ism of food prece­dence over culi­nary norms. At­ten­dees would wear cos­tumes fol­low­ing themes the Dalís set. One of these more op­u­lent the­matic din­ners in 1941 was the “sur­re­al­ist for­est din­ner party”, where the hosts donned fairy tale-in­spired cos­tumes, with Sal­vador dressed as a three-headed man with ex­posed or­gans. One must have had a strong stom­ach and a hearty ap­petite to par­tic­i­pate.


Aside from recipes and Dalí’s mus­ings, some of the artist’s orig­i­nal draw­ings are found on the pages of the cook­book. There is lav­ish im­agery of tow­er­ing, blood­ied lob­sters, or a col­lage of tea bis­cuits and moun­tain­ous land­scape. In one il­lus­tra­tion, blood gushes forth from a woman’s sev­ered arms, while crus­taceans form her skirt and corpses lie at her feet. The chap­ters are or­gan­ised by meal cour­ses, in­clud­ing Dalí’s take on aphro­disi­acs. Recipes in­clude ‘Frog Pasties’ and ‘Veal Cut­lets Stuffed With Snails’, many of which were the cre­ation of the no­table French chefs who helmed Parisian food tem­ples such as Lassere, La Tour d’Ar­gent, Maxim’s, and Le Train Bleu.

Be­fore you delve into Dalí’s fas­ci­na­tion with food and sur­re­al­ism, heed his warn­ing: “Les Dîners de Gala is uniquely de­voted to the plea­sures of taste… If you are a dis­ci­ple of one of those calo­rie-coun­ters who turn the joys of eat­ing into a form of pun­ish­ment, close this book at once; it is too lively, too ag­gres­sive, and far too im­per­ti­nent for you.”

The cook­book con­tains orig­i­nal il­lus­tra­tions by Sal­vador Dalí BE­LOW

The English edi­tion cover of the 2016 re­print by pub­lisher Taschen

All images of the book’s in­side pages used in this story are the copy­right of Sal­vador Dalí. Fun­dació Gala-Sal­vador Dalí, Figueres, 2016

The book comes with sur­re­al­ist draw­ings that re­flect the painter’s sig­na­ture style


Dalí and his wife Gala of­ten asked their din­ner party guests to come in cos­tume Each chap­ter of the book is de­voted to a dif­fer­ent meal course

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