Andy Warhol’s Vibrant, Impractical, Illustrated Cookbook from 1959: A Feast for the Eyes

Gor­geous­ly illus­trat­ed cook­books fea­tur­ing sump­tu­ous images of fan­cy desserts and oth­er spe­cial occa­sion food can be quite an intim­i­dat­ing propo­si­tion to self-doubt­ing begin­ners.

The recipes them­selves are daunt­ing, and as every Great British Bak­ing Show view­er learns, watch­ing the top con­tes­tants squirm in advance of co-host Paul Hol­ly­wood’s icy judg­ment, fla­vor can’t save an edi­ble cre­ation that fails as art.

Andy Warhol’s approach to cook­ery appears rather more blithe.

His 1959 cook­book, Wild Rasp­ber­ries — the title is a play on Ing­mar Bergman’s Wild Straw­ber­ries — dis­plays lit­tle inter­est in its read­ers’ cook­ing abil­i­ty… or, for that mat­ter, its authors.

Fan­ci­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tions of such del­i­ca­cies as Gar­doons a la Mous­se­line are pret­ty as a pic­ture… and stress free giv­en that no one is actu­al­ly expect­ed to make them.

Wild Rasp­ber­ries is all about atti­tude… and ambi­tion of a pure­ly social nature.

Warhol’s co-author, inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tor and soci­ety host­ess Suzie Frank­furt, recalled hatch­ing the idea for this col­lab­o­ra­tion, short­ly after encoun­ter­ing the young artist at New York City’s fabled sweet spot, Serendip­i­ty: “We thought it would be a mas­ter­piece and we’d sell thou­sands. I think we sold 20.”

It’s pos­si­ble the endeav­or was a few decades ahead of its time. We can imag­ine Wild Rasp­ber­ries doing quite well as an impul­sive lifestyle type buy at Urban Out­fit­ters.

Sec­ond­hand copies of a 1997 reprint occa­sion­al­ly resur­face, as do auc­tion lots of the orig­i­nal 34 lith­o­graph sets, hand-col­ored by four school­boys who lived upstairs from Warhol, pri­or to hand-bind­ing by rab­bis on the Low­er East Side.

After con­sign­ing a few copies to Dou­ble­day and Riz­zoli book­stores, Warhol and Frank­furt gave the bulk of the first edi­tion away as Christ­mas presents to friends, who were no doubt well equipped to appre­ci­ate the tongue-in-cheek nature of its “recipes,” hand-let­tered by Warhol’s moth­er, Julia — whose spelling boo-boos were pur­pose­ful­ly allowed to stand.

The instruc­tions eschew crass men­tion of mea­sure­ments or cook­ing times… per­fect for any­one with hired staff, stand­ing reser­va­tions at Upper East Side hot spots, or a social X‑Ray diet reg­i­men.

Instead, read­ers are direct­ed to send the Cadil­lac round to Trad­er Vic’s tiki bar for a suck­ling pig of suf­fi­cient size for a par­ty of 15, or to gath­er morels should they find them­selves hol­i­day­ing in the vicin­i­ty of Nor­mandy.

Salade de Alf Lan­don, a bombe of lob­ster tails named for FDR’s oppo­nent in the 1936 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, crowned with aspara­gus tips and hard­boiled plover eggs, seems like it could dou­ble as a fetch­ing cha­peau, espe­cial­ly when paired with one of Warhol’s whim­si­cal fan­ta­sy  for footwear com­pa­ny I. Miller’s week­ly ads in The New York Times.

In fact, near­ly every­thing in this vibrant­ly hand col­ored “cook­book” makes for plau­si­ble mid-cen­tu­ry millinery, from Torte a la Dobosch to an imprac­ti­cal­ly ver­ti­cal arrange­ment of Hard Boiled Eggs.



Wild Rasp­ber­ries may have been a swipe at aspi­ra­tional, host­ess-ori­ent­ed late-50s cook­books, but Green­gages a la Warhol’s ref­er­ence to hyper­local pro­duce would fit right in with with Portlandia’s 21st cen­tu­ry food­ie spoofs.

High and low com­bine to great effect with wink­ing ref­er­ences to Gre­ta Gar­bo and gos­sip colum­nist Dorothy Kil­gallenLucky Whip dessert top­ping, a “Seared Roe­buck,” and store-bought super­mar­ket sponge cake (the lat­ter in Wild Rasp­ber­ries’ most legit-sound­ing recipe, some­thing of an upgrade from the recipe for “cake” Warhol shared in The Phi­los­o­phy of Andy Warhol — a choco­late bar served between slices of bread.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

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

300 Rarely-Seen, Risqué Draw­ings by Andy Warhol Pub­lished in the New Book, Andy Warhol: Love, Sex, and Desire. Draw­ings (1950–1962)

130,000 Pho­tographs by Andy Warhol Are Now Avail­able Online, Cour­tesy of Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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