How to Cook Like Frida Kahlo & Georgia O’Keefe

It’s a myth that starv­ing artists don’t eat.

They do, just not often or well. Their meals rarely rate recipes, let alone cook­books.

Those cook­books do exist though.…

The most­ly con­cep­tu­al Starv­ing Artist Cook­book put togeth­er by EIDIA (aka artists Paul Lamarre and Melis­sa Wolf) comes close to the spir­it of sus­tain­ing life through mea­ger ingre­di­ents… like spaghet­ti or 4 pages of shred­ded Prav­da.

Not so this oth­er title, which approach­es cute over­load with an abun­dance of Insta­gram-wor­thy illus­trat­ed fare—moji­tos, an unstruc­tured berry tart, a “man­ly” burg­er.…

Do “starv­ing” artists no longer fear being out­ed as posers?

Suc­cess­ful artists may not wor­ry about that, as they eat what­ev­er and how­ev­er they want.

Andy Warhol had the taste of an eccen­tric child.

Mari­na Abramović takes the ascetic route.

Many have glady trad­ed the can­dle in the chi­anti bot­tle for the most rar­i­fied restau­rants in town.

Geor­gia O’Keefe and Fri­da Kahlo, PBS Dig­i­tal Stu­dios’ series the Art Assign­ment informs us, took cooking—and eating—seriously.

So seri­ous­ly, their culi­nary efforts led to cook­books, which the Art Assignment’s host, cura­tor Sarah Urist Green, tries out on cam­era.

O’Keefe, who grew up in Wis­con­sin on home­made yogurt, home­made cheese, and plen­ti­ful home­grown pro­duce, ground her own flour in order to bake dai­ly loaves of whole wheat bread.

Green treats view­ers to a brief overview of O’Keefe’s life and work as she strug­gles with the grinder. (You might get the same, or bet­ter, results if you take a $5 bill to a good bak­ery right at open­ing.)

She also tack­les the wheat germ Tiger’s Milk smooth­ie advo­cat­ed by Adele Davis, a nutri­tion­ist whom O’Keefe  admired, and Green Chiles with Gar­lic and Oil and Fried Eggs, using recipes from the cook­books A Painter’s Kitchen and Din­ner with Geor­gia O’Keefe.

Before attempt­ing the same, you might want to watch the Kahlo-cen­tric episode, above, in which Green dis­cov­ers a much bet­ter method for roast­ing the poblano pep­pers she hap­less­ly sub­sti­tut­ed for New Mex­i­co chiles in O’Keefe’s egg dish.

Here, they’re used for Chiles Rel­lenos, a dish whose pro­nun­ci­a­tion the self-effac­ing Green butch­ers, along with a mul­ti­tude of oth­er Span­ish phras­es, a fact not lost on the video’s Youtube com­menters. They also take issue with the pres­ence of plan­tains, her prepa­ra­tion of the Nopales Sal­ad, and her cook­ing skills in gen­er­al. No won­der Green—a self-pro­claimed wussy where ser­ra­nos are concerned—seems so eager to reach for a shot of tequi­la as din­ner is final­ly served.

Green chose the dish­es for this episode from Frida’s Fies­tas: Recipes and Rem­i­nis­cences of Life with Fri­da Kahlo by Marie-Pierre Colle and Kahlo’s step­daugh­ter, Guadalupe Rivera.

Kahlo her­self learned to cook from her mother’s copy of El Nue­vo Cocinero Meji­cano, and from hus­band Diego Rivera’s first wife, Guadalupe (lead­ing one to won­der if some of that cook­book’s recipes aren’t mis­at­trib­uted to the more famous cook).

As with the O’Keefe video and the cook­books cit­ed here­in, there’s a wealth of vin­tage pho­tos and repro­duced art­work on dis­play.

Even though Green alludes to Kahlo’s dark side, sen­si­tive stom­achs might have trou­ble with the inclu­sion of the graph­i­cal­ly vio­lent Unos Quan­tos Piqueti­tos. Anoth­er paint­ing, My Nurse and I is at least relat­ed to eat­ing, if not cook­ing and recipes.

Those with stom­achs of steel on the oth­er hand can con­tin­ue on to anoth­er Art Assignment—the supreme­ly gross Meat Sculp­ture from the Futur­ist Cook­book.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Futur­ist Cook­book (1930) Tried to Turn Ital­ian Cui­sine into Mod­ern Art

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

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

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Dis­cuss Emi­ly Dick­in­son with her infor­mal­ly at Pete’s Mini Zine­fest in Brook­lyn this Sat­ur­day. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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  • Eric T. says:

    As an artist I had the thought that per­haps “starv­ing artist” could also refer to the fact that when we are in the flow of cre­ation things like food and the need to eat (but not cof­fee strange­ly enough, at least for me) fall to the back­ground and are for­got­ten tem­porar­i­ly.

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