Dali gurii

Salvador Dalí’s surreal cookbook set to be Christmas bestseller By Esther Addley and Alison Flood

Stuck for ideas for Christmas dinner this year? Worry no more. Thanks to an unlikely new celebrity chef, fashionable dinners this festive season are likely to feature thousand-year-old eggs, conger eel of the rising sun and frog pasties (recipe below), all washed down with a cocktail of brandy, ginger and cayenne pepper.

If that sounds a bit more surreal than your standard fare, you’re on the right culinary track. A rare and fantastical cookbook by the painter Salvador Dalí is being reissued for the first time in more than 40 years, and already looks set to be an unexpected Christmas bestseller.

Dalí’s lavish and erotic cookbook Les Diners de Gala was first published in 1973, featuring 136 recipes compiled by the painter and his wife Gala. Divided into 12 chapters with titles such as “Prime Lilliputian malaises” (meat) and “Deoxyribonucleic Atavism” (vegetables), the book also features sumptuous Dalí illustrations and photographs of the painter posing alongside tables loaded with a banquet’s worth of food. Chapter 10, entitled “The ‘I Eat GALA’”, is devoted to aphrodisiacs.

Masa

The Eating Out Habit By Paula Marantz Cohen

When I was growing up in suburban New Jersey in the 1960s, my parents would announce periodically that we would be going to go out to dinner. When the announcement was made, the evening was imbued with a festive air. We dressed up — I have a recollection of patent leather shoes and crinolines. Eating out was an occasion; it happened rarely and felt like an extravagance.

I don’t think my family was unique in this. Most people of that era — unless they worked in advertising — rarely ate out.

No longer. Now, everyone eats out all the time.

I say “everyone,” knowing full well that there are people for whom eating out is, at best, a trip to McDonalds, and others who continue to gather around the dinner table (à la Moonstruck) for a home-cooked meal. But most people who graduated from college in the past two decades — even those with mountains of college debt — eat out a great deal. Eating out has become something done routinely — a habit, if you will. The philosopher and psychologist William James defined a habit as something learned through repetitive action: we do it “with difficulty the first time, but soon do it more and more easily, and finally, with sufficient practice, do it semi-mechanically, or with hardly any consciousness at all.”

De mâncare

Canon of taste by Jill Neimark

Shields and Roberts are not alone. There is a growing global movement to establish a culinary canon and to restore the actual local ingredients that composed it. Why shouldn’t there be a canon of taste, like other canons of our civilisation, those of literature, art, music, architecture, religion and science? We have a global palate now, and with that, a new willingness to cross-pollinate and revivify regional foodways – and even ways of staging food at the table.

Even in the most unassuming places, artisanal traditions are being newly recreated: ‘I just came from Norwalk, Iowa, out in the middle of nowhere, and there was this incredible charcuterie,’ says the chef Dan Barber, founder of the internationally acclaimed Blue Hill restaurant in New York. The charcuterie, La Quercia, creates artisan-cured meats by hand from local, acorn-fed pork, and has become world-renowned.

Morcovul albastru

The Colors We Eat

Food color does more than guide us—it changes the experience of taste.

Food companies, which regularly do taste testing internally, know the confusion that color can create. Their trained sensory panelists evaluate new foods under red lighting, so that their powers of discrimination are not thrown off by traditional color-flavor expectations. As Jeannine Delwiche, a sensory scientist at Mead Johnson Nutrition (and before that at Pepsi-co) notes, at the early stages of a food product’s development, “the color often isn’t set.” Changes in the way the food is eventually processed may change its appearance. “The assumption is you can address that separately,” she says. “Meanwhile you want to know how the flavor’s doing.” The red light, she says, compels the panelists to focus more on other attributes, like texture and flavor.