Salvador Dalí’s Erotic Cookbook Made Peacocks Sexy
Plucked birds and pleasure gardens, could we ask for anything more?
If ever you needed a recipe for “Peacock à l’Impériale dressed and surrounded by its court”—which includes a whole taxidermied peacock placed with a flourish upon the plate—now is the time, as Salvador Dalí’s erotic, surreal cookbook has just been reprinted by Taschen in English and four other languages.
“Les Dîners de Gala is uniquely devoted to the pleasure 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,” declares Dalí on the book’s opening pages, first published in 1973.
The book features 136 recipes over 12 chapters, each meticulously and rather flamboyantly illustrated by Dalí himself, peppered with extravagant and extended musings on subjects such as dinner conversation, advising, for example, “The jaw is our best tool to grasp philosophical knowledge.”
Nestled amidst a landscape of surreal photos and illustrations—replete with fantastical animals, signature melting clocks, and barren deserts—are recipes that the artist has picked up from old-style Paris restaurants like Lasserre, La Tour d’Argent, Maxim’s, and Le Train Bleu. These were fashionable at the time and frequented often by the artist and his wife Gala, who would also hold extensive (and rather fabulous) dinner parties at home.
Some recipes, however, lend themselves freely to the imagination, slipping out of what is possible and into simply what may be fantasized instead: some take on the form of human body parts, while others require the presence of dreamlike landscapes.
Others still, do the opposite by making the fantastical suddenly approachable. Take “Roast Pork with Shellfish” for example, which is accompanied by an image of a pork shoulder set amidst a Bosch-style garden of earthly delights.
The recipes are, above all, erotic, with an entire section devoted to aphrodisiacs—“Aphrodite’s puree” perhaps, or “Siren’s shoulder” if you so fancy—and of course, these are appropriately annotated as well.
Rare, older versions of the book are sold on eBay and Amazon for upwards of $695, but the Taschen version comes with a comparatively more affordable $59.99 price tag. Part recipe-book, but mostly a delight for hungry eyes, Les Dîners de Gala is nothing if not a delicious visual treat.
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