Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Futurist Cookbook

One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was this book, given to me by my smart sister Haley. I laughed so hard while reading it I cried. I got inspired in a lot of rather dangerous ways. I learned a lot about art and life and creativity. If you want to get your own copy, you can find one here.

The take-aways:

*This cookbook stemmed from the Futurist art movement in the early 1900s (I believe it was published in 1932.) At this time, modern artists were embracing "the mechanical future": airplanes, aluminum, speed, and technology. They were eschewing the romantic and nature-adoring themes of the last century and other art movements taking place at the same time like Art Nouveau. (guess who went to art school? hah.)

*These crazy Italian guys did NOT like pasta: "Any pastasciuttist who honestly examines his conscience at the moment he ingurgitates his biquotidian pyramid of pasta will find within the gloomy satisfaction of stopping up a black hole." In fact, probably 1/3 of the book is a rant about how terrible these "white worms" are. This caused such a riot in Italy that there were marches in favor of pasta, wars about its importance, and even a few casualties.

*They had some very hilarious ideas about the future of food consumption, from taking in all nutrients in the form of pills, to some even more unlikely sources: "We must, by continually varying types of food and their combinations, kill off the old, deeply-rooted habits of the palate; and prepare men for future chemical foodstuffs; we may even prepare mankind for the not too distant possibility of broadcasting nourishing waves over the radio."f

*The recipe section is an incredible exercise in the absurd, featuring recipes with names such as: "A Simultaneous Dish," "Italian Sea", "Immortal Trout", "Sicilian Headland," "Elasticake," "Hunting in Heaven," and "Steel Chicken" (which makes the use of cockscombs, chicken, and those silver hundreds and thousands used on Christmas cookies.) The ingredients are bizarre and conceptual, the images they evoke odd and often sexual. Here's my favorite recipe so far, titled "The Excited Pig": "A whole salami, skinned, is served upright on a dish containing some very hot black coffee mixed with a good deal of eau de Cologne." how's that for a mental image?

*There's also a section on dinners that is fantastically absurd, from dressing everyone attending in pajamas made of various tactile materials to serving the busy businessman a meal of hot chocolate in pen-sized thermoses and pipes full of soup.

*Part of me wants to laugh at the absolute hilarity of this book, while another part of me is full of immense adoration of the conceptual thinking and creativity displayed. If you asked me to write the weirdest cookbook I could think of, it wouldn't be half as bizarre as this one.

I'm inspired in a lot of weird ways from this book. Part of me really wants to do a pasta-only dinner just to piss off the memory of the Italian futurists ;) I'm also inspired to name my culinary creations far more creatively and wander out of my food comfort zones a little more (though perhaps not quite *this* far, haha) This book has been fantastic and bizarre brain food and I'm so glad I got to devour it!

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