Salvador Dalí isn’t generally remembered for his culinary prowess. Although he was a secret admirer of gastronomy for all of its transformative and monstrous properties. In his rare and 1973 cookbook Les Diners de Gala, just reissued by Taschen. the late iconic artist celebrates dream-like and surreal flavour combinations.
Chapter titles include Prime Lilliputian malaises’ (meat) and ‘Deoxyribonucleic Atavism’ (vegetables).
He claims that at the age of six he wanted to be a chef. Instead, thankfully for all of us, he chose another path and created some of the world’s most beloved surreal art. Dalí’s flair for the theatrical elements of cooking and dining were satisfied during what could only have been exceptionally memorable gala events where guests were required to wear unusual costumes and wild animals often roamed around the table for added visceral and sensory effect.
“We would like to state clearly that [Les Diners 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.” – Salvador Dalí
His cookbook includes culinary concoctions, such as:
- Frog pasties
- Conger eel of the rising sun
- Veal Cutlets Stuffed with Snails
- Thousand Year Old Eggs
- Toffee with Pine Cones
Les Diners de Gala is a fantastical combination of culinary tips and surrealism that has enormous cross-over appeal to lovers of both food and art. The book features homages to Dalí’s famous Lobster Telephone (1936) along with Self-portrait with Grilled Bacon (1941) and Portrait of Gala with Two Lamb Chops in Equilibrium upon Her Shoulder (1934).
Food was a a prominent motif in Dalí’s artistic imaginings and also it seems, he sampled plenty of bizarre food combinations during his lifetime as well.
This lavish compilation of 136 recipes were compiled by the great artist and his wife Gala over the course of their lives, spent entertaining lucky friends. Chapter 10 is entitled ‘I eat Gala’ and is devoted to sexy aphrodisiacs.
“The jaw is our best tool to grasp philosophical knowledge” – Salvador Dalí
Monstrous, visceral and visually challenging, each of the recipes and accompanying artworks in the book are designed to challenge the mind and what we consider to be edible foods and symbols of sumptuous consumption.
In one illustration, Dalí positions a dangling head with biscuits for hair and a fringe made of a glass of red wine and a strange melee of vegetables and meat for brain, alongside a large cube of blue cheese – filled with some sort of historical epic battle.
Once only in the privileged possession of a few dozen collectors across the world, Les Diners de Gala is now available from publisher Taschen for the first time since the late 70’s. If surreal culinary chaos is your kind of fun then you will love this. Otherwise those less daring readers will still enjoy the imagery and the frivolous, lively and horrifying food combinations.
Shapeless, formless and unintelligible foods like vegetables and spinach were frowned upon by Dalí, instead he loved (unsurpisingly) crustaceans.