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Salvador Dalí’s bizarro cookbook, which showcases the food he served at opulent dinner parties (just imagine), has been relegated to cult collectors since 1973, when it was published only once. The hundreds of copies that still exist go for hundreds of dollars.
Thrillingly, the book publisher Taschen is releasing a facsimile of the original book next month. That means no copyeditor meddled by querying exactly how you gut and flame-clean a pigeon for the stuffed cabbage with pigeons (page 194) or where one should acquire lambs brains for the avocado toast (page 303).
The exotic, luxurious recipes are more poetry than method. Kristen dared to make the most subdued recipe in the book (I dared her): Though she had no idea how it was intended to be, she found her cold marinated pork with warm creamy potatoes anything but artful in look, though strangely good to eat.
The images, too, are lean towards theatrical, with Dalí’s favorite themes evoked throughout. There’s old-school 1970s food photography (more than one of arrangement of food in a phallic shape), illustration, collage, Dalí quirk, and all of the above, all at once. It’s like a highly eccentric chef’s leather journal, the kind normally sealed with lock and key.
For a romp in the fun, you get to guess which image accompanies which recipe. Your choices of dishes follow each image (if you’d like to cheat, answers are at the bottom).
A. Tripe of Yesteryear: The recipe serves 10, involves leaving a pot of tripe in the oven overnight, and "you might enjoy this dish even more with one or two glasses of brandy which will add fuel to the conversation."
B. Rolled Veal on Toasts: Which involves bacon-wrapped veal rolls “put on a spit,” with slices of bread in a dripping pan below. “In order to eat them, your guests will have to unroll the strip of bacon; they will crush it with a knife on the toast. Serve with noodles.” Noodles?
A. Crayfish Consommé: “May I suggest that you serve it with thin garlic toasts,” Dalí recommends kindly.
B. Aphrodite's Purée: Rice soaked with fish sauce and cod, prawn shells to garnish.
A. Bush of crayfish in Viking herbs: You make it like so...
"In order to realize this dish it isn’t necessary to have crayfish of 2 ozs each. Prepare the following ingredients for a broth: “fumet” (scented reduced bouillon) of fish, of consommé, of white wine, vermouth, cognac, salt, pepper, sugar and dill (aromatic herb). Poach the crayfish in this broth for 20 minutes. Let it all cool for 24 hours and arrange the crayfish in a dome. Strain the broth and serve in cups.”
Oh, and the chef decided to keep the exact ingredients a secret.
B. Mousse of crayfish tails, sauce Nantua: Make a mouse of crayfish tails, pour over the Béchamel-crayfish sauce, top with a whole crayfish (for decoration) and slivers of truffles.
A. Snails en Brochette: In which a thin fillet of beef wraps around two snails and a canned salsify-shallot mixture.
B. Thousand year old eggs: Hard-boil eggs, let them steep in a tea-Tabasco-clove mixture for three weeks, eat!
Answers (but doesn't really matter, does it?):
Image 1: B Image 2: A Image 3: A Image 4: A
Dalí: Les Dîners de Gala is available November 20 wherever books are sold.