Spaniard Salvador Dalí is better known for his cubism than his cooking, and his iconic melting clock suggests little reason to believe he was conscientious with a kitchen timer. However, Dalí often used food as symbology in his work, or simply to celebrate his favorite cuisine.
“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since,” he once remarked. Dalí never did serve as a diminutive emperor (he had a whopping one inch of height on the 5′ 7″ Napoleon) but he ascended his own throne in the artistic community.
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And, at the age of 69, Dalí fulfilled his earlier ambition when he wrote and illustrated a titillating cookbook.
Taschen has reissued Les Diners de Gala for the first time since 1973, with 136 provocative—but fully replicable—recipes. The book won’t be released until next month, but you can pre-order it here. That gives you plenty of time to prepare your kitchen for recipes like “Veal Cutlets Stuffed with Snails” and “Toffee with Pine Cones.”
It’s certainly more Hieronymus Bosch than Anthony Bourdain. In one illustration, roast birds are seen suggestively mounting each other. In another, a woman spurts blood onto her lobster shell dress.
As it turns out, Dalí had a soft spot for seafood, the harder to conquer the better. “I love eating suits of arms, in fact I love all shell fish… food that only a battle to peel makes it vulnerable to the conquest of our palate,” Dalí writes in the cookbook.
The artist’s "Lobster Telephone," created 37 years prior, became an icon of surrealism and provided inspiration for the Pop Art movement. Dalí also painted sea urchins, based on fond memories of cracking and eating them in his native Catalonia.
Like a true foodie, Dalí didn’t restrict himself to any one culture. Throughout his life, he dressed in luxurious garb that referenced everyone from the English upper class to his own Moorish ancestors. Lovers of Chinese cuisine will recognize Dalí’s recipe for “Thousand Year Old Eggs,” which he marinated for three weeks. And while you wait for those, have a Casanova Cocktail.
When Dalí was expelled from his artistic circle by fellow surrealists, he famously fired back "I myself am surrealism!" Bear that in mind if you’re booted from the kitchen for plating Dalí’s edible provocations.