The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook Collects Recipes From T.C. Boyle, Marina Abramović, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates & More


The Artists’ and Writ­ers’ Cook­book: A Col­lec­tion of Sto­ries with Recipes © 2016, edit­ed by Natal­ie Eve Gar­rett, illus­trat­ed by Amy Jean Porter, pub­lished by pow­er­House Books..

There will nev­er not be a mar­ket for the cook­book, with all its var­i­ous sub­cat­e­gories, from fad diet to celebri­ty chef. While The Onion’s pro­posed “Niet­zschean Diet” (which “lets you eat what­ev­er you fear most”) may nev­er catch on, one unusu­al cook­book niche does involve the recipes of famous writ­ers, artists, musi­cians and oth­er high- and pop-cul­ture fig­ures. The genre flour­ished in the six­ties and sev­en­ties, with Swingers & Singers in the Kitchen in 1967, Sal­vador Dalí’s Les Din­ers de Gala in 1973, and the MoMA’s Artists’ Cook­book in 1978.


Pre­dat­ing these celebri­ty recipe books, The Artists’ & Writ­ers’ Cook­book appeared in 1961. Brain Pick­ings describes the book as “a lav­ish 350-page vin­tage tome, illus­trat­ed with 19th-cen­tu­ry engrav­ings and orig­i­nal draw­ings by Mar­cel Duchamp, Robert Osbourn, and Alexan­dre Istrati.” It fea­tured 220 recipes by painters, nov­el­ists, poets, and sculp­tors like Man Ray, John Keats, Robert Graves, Harp­er Lee, Georges Simenon, and more. What’s old has become new again, with the recent reprint­ing of Dalí’s cook­book by Taschen and, on Octo­ber 11th, the pub­li­ca­tion of an updat­ed Artists’ and Writ­ers’ Cook­book, edit­ed by Natal­ie Eve Gar­rett and illus­trat­ed by Amy Jean Porter.


The 2016 ver­sion includes recipes from such liv­ing artists as Edwidge Dan­ti­cat, Ed Ruscha, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Car­ol Oates, James Fran­co, Nik­ki Gio­van­ni, Mari­na Abramović, and many more. The recipes range from the whim­si­cal (see T.C. Boyle’s “Baked Camel (Stuffed)” fur­ther up) to the thor­ough­ly metaphor­i­cal (as in Abramović’s “Essen­tial Aphro­disi­ac Recipes,” above). In-between, we have such stan­dard fare as “The Util­i­tar­i­an, Amer­i­can-Style PB&J: An Artist’s Best Friend,” cour­tesy of Fran­co, which calls for the fol­low­ing ingre­di­ents:

wheat bread
peanut but­ter
gin­ger ale (option­al)
pick­les (option­al)

Hait­ian nov­el­ist Edwidge Dan­ti­cat takes a seri­ous approach with a tra­di­tion­al recipe for “Soup Joumou.” She pref­aces this more exten­sive dish with a poet­ic descrip­tion of its nation­al impor­tance, con­clud­ing that it is con­sumed “as a sign of our inde­pen­dence, as a cel­e­bra­tion of a new begin­ning.…” The recipe may send you to the gro­cery, but—especially this time of year—you’ll find all of the ingre­di­ents at your near­est chain store:

1 pump­kin between 2–3 pounds, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 pound cab­bage, sliced and chopped
4 car­rots, peeled and sliced
3 stalks cel­ery, sliced and chopped
1 large onion, cut into small pieces
5 pota­toes, peeled and cubed
2 turnips, peeled and cubed (option­al)
1 lime cut in half and squeezed for a much juice as you can get from it
¼ pound mac­a­roni
3 gar­lic cloves, crushed or cut into small pieces
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig pars­ley
2 tea­spoons salt
2 tea­spoons ground pep­per
1 Scotch bay­o­net pep­per

Sounds deli­cious.

Neil Gaiman keeps things very sim­ple with “Coraline’s Cheese Omelette,” intro­duced with an excerpt from that dark children’s fan­ta­sy. For this, you like­ly have all you need on hand:

2 eggs
1 table­spoon milk
a pinch of salt

The essays and nar­ra­tives in the new The Artists’ and Writ­ers’ Cook­book are “at turns,” writes edi­tor Natal­ie Eve Gar­rett, “comedic and heart-wrench­ing, per­son­al and apoc­a­lyp­tic, with recipes that are enchant­i­ng to read and recre­ate.” As you can see from the small sam­pling here, you need not have any pre­ten­tions to haute cui­sine to fol­low most of them. And as the book’s subtitle—“A Col­lec­tion of Sto­ries with Recipes”—suggests, you needn’t cook at all to find joy in this diverse assem­blage of artists and writ­ers’ asso­ci­a­tions with food, that most per­son­al and inti­mate, yet also cul­tur­al­ly defin­ing and com­mu­nal of sub­jects. Pick up a copy of The Artists’ and Writ­ers’ Cook­book on Ama­zon.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1967 Cook­book Fea­tures Recipes by the Rolling Stones, Simon & Gar­funkel, Bar­bra Streisand & More

Sal­vador Dalí’s 1973 Cook­book Gets Reis­sued: Sur­re­al­ist Art Meets Haute Cui­sine

MoMA’s Artists’ Cook­book (1978) Reveals the Meals of Sal­vador Dalí, Willem de Koon­ing, Andy Warhol, Louise Bour­geois & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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