Salvador Dalí wore many hats in his life: luminary Surrealist, collaborator with cinema legends Walt Disney and Alfred Hitchcock, self-proclaimed clown, and experimental filmmaker—but from the age of six he longed to wear a chef's toque blanche. In 1973 that dream culminated in a sensual fusion of cookbook and art object, Les diners de Gala, which Taschen just announced it is reprinting for the first time in decades.
Peppered between Dalí's often outlandish recipes are surreal photos and illustrations of the food paired with his melting clocks, barren deserts, and fantastical animals. Dishes that lose all resemblance to reality, taking on human body parts or backed by dreamlike landscapes, elevate the more conventional fair. One picture of pork shoulder surrounded by a Bosch-like garden of delights acts as a cerebral spice for the nearby "Roast Pork with Shellfish." It infuses it with mystique, while also making it seem approachable in comparison.
Recipes like "Peacock à l'Impériale dressed and surrounded by its court"—which incororates an actual taxidermied peacock into the plating—don't need extra sensory seasoning. There's an entire section devoted to aphrodesiacs, with recipes like "Aphrodite's puree" and "Siren shoulder." Dalí's comentary is sprinkled throughout many of the recipes, but some of the best are in this section. He preludes the brandy-based "Casanova cocktail," for example, by writing, "This is quite appropriate when circumstances such as exhaustion, overwork, or simply excess of sobriety are calling for a pick-me-up." Les diners de Gala is, if nothing else, proof that creativity deserves to have its boundaries tested.
While he's best known as a painter, Dalí refers to cooking as, "the most delicate symbol of true civilization." The book is a window into Dalinian Gastronomics, which values taste and presentation over all else—particularly nutrition. If your goal is to recreated the edible imaginings of the surrealist icon, the book comes with a warning: “Les diners de Gala is uniquely devoted to the pleasures of taste," Dalí writes. "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.” Check out some of these pleasures in the images and recipes below:
Via It's Nice That