What happens when you combine equal parts avant-garde art, Julia Child, raw meat, and a pinch of LSD, then blend the whole thing for five minutes on the “pink elephants” setting, before serving it up in a hollowed-out rhinoceros horn?
You'd get something close to Les Diners De Gala, a culinary guidebook cooked up in the decidedly twisted (and brilliant) mind of Catalonian artist Salvador Dali. If you like your eggs drippy with a side of subliminal angst, and your Pelican-headed cornucopias complete with a foaming toothbrush ass, you'll love what this master of surrealism had going on in his kitchen.
Warning: Some photos may be NSFW
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Surprisingly, Dali dreamed of being a cook when he was a child, giving this project added gravitas. He also really hates frogs, judging by the bottom of this macabre cover.
Published in 1973, the volume consists of 12 separate chapters—covering everything from seafood to aphrodisiacs—all captured in Dali's distinct, hypnagogic style.
The book vacillates between functional cooking instruction and subconscious-drenched artistic states, just as Martha Stewart vacillates between functional cooking instructor, and rage-drenched prisoner of the state.
Here, Dali strays from providing any solid recipes, instead opting for dreamscapes of raw meat. Nothing screams high-art like potential parasites and infinite hardwood.
Despite the surrealist bent, Dali manages to include some practical recipes sprinkled among the weirdness, like this one for "Thousand Year Eggs" (below).
"First, boil the eggs for ten minutes in salted boiling water. Then take them out, put them under cold running water which will make it easier to shell them. In the same water in which the eggs had boiled, add the cloves, sugar, vinegar, a lot of Tabasco sauce, the lemons (cut in eighths) and thyme. Boil for 15 minutes. Shut off the flame, dip in the tea-bag and let them steep for 10 minutes."
This breakfast dish is particularly delicious. The hardest part is tying string to the raw egg white. The second hardest part is finding a place to hang your carrot.
Throughout the book, Dali elaborates on his distaste for green vegetables, as well as his lack of faith in modern government - two subjects that naturally coincide.
"I only like to eat what has a clear and intelligible form. If I hate that detestable degrading vegetable called spinach it is because it is shapeless, like Liberty."
For some reason this thing is filed under the "Sweets and Desserts" section. It looks more like Thanksgiving dinner at Hunter S. Thompson's place (you know, because drugs).
"I attribute capital esthetic and moral values to food in general, and to spinach in particular. The opposite of shapeless spinach, is armor. 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."
This dish reminds me simultaneously of the San Gennaro Parade in Little Italy, a Quentin Tarantino historical piece, and the time I saw it rain red fingers at Burning Man.
With liberal recipes, loaded with hard-to-find ingredients like quail eggs and castor eels, it's clear this cookbook isn't for novice foodsmiths. Though if you have a kitchen full of castor eels, maybe dinner isn't your most pressing priority.
What is Dali trying to impart here? Personally, I think he’s trying to say that we should stop trying to look to the sky to solve our problems, when we have perfectly good peas and cookies inside our hair the whole time.
This is the part where Dali and I leave you—staring at a naked lady pile with butterfly staff sitting next to a really nice cake.
No need to thank me, just make sure all your relatives are adequately freaked out during your upcoming holiday dinners. It's what Dali would have wanted.
Wil Fulton is a recent Harvard grad who just received his triple Black-Belt in kung-fu, shortly after escorting Miss America safely to the top of Mount Everest. He’s also a compulsive liar. Follow him for the real truth @WilWithOnlyOneL