Niagara Gazette


August 28, 2013

New Castellani exhibit features cookbook prints by Salvador Dali


Niagara Gazette — The recipes “are very heavily sauced, heavily exotic, with eastern European flairs,” Beam said. “There’s a great recipe for almond toast, made of chopped-up almonds and butter, which sounds great but then Dali adds sheep brains.”

Other recipes include one for thousand-year-old eggs (made by leaving eggs buried underground for a couple days), frog pasties and veal cutlets stuffed with snails. 

“If you’re in Paris, these recipes would be what you’d have at restaurants in the 1970s ... this is what all the chefs were cooking. Today it may not be to our liking,” Beam said.

Photographs accompanying some of the dishes are noted for their beautiful and sometimes outlandish presentation. One dish included the stuffed torso of a peacock with gold leafing. Another was a towering pile of shellfish.

And with the 12 illustrations, Dali took the imagery one step further, appropriating images from Heironymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights,” a 15th century painted triptych often considered surrealist in its own right.

In the image for the chapter on vegetables, for example, a platter of food items are accompanied by cut-out images of birds and figures from Bosch’s painting. In another, a dead, plucked bird is covered by a cloth that resembles the Shroud of Turin.

“What’s really exciting about the food is the presentation,” Beam said. “With Dali, everything is absolutely beautifully presented.”

Others are more suggestive. A seafood dish includes a fish with the anatomy of a nude woman, another is a nude portrait of Dali’s wife — “I don’t know why her head is a plumb,” though, Beam commented.

One might not want to question why Dali makes certain choices in his depiction of food. The exhibition catalog tells readers the artist had a lifelong interest in the culinary arts and was known to bathe in sardine oil and take afternoon naps with live lobsters in his bed.

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