For most people, surrealist dining is when one of your colleagues reveals some perturbing eating habit like dipping nachos into jam, or the car crash snack you rustle up from a ransacked fridge when you return home drunk the night before the big weekly shop. Salvador Dalí’s pursuit was, naturally, far less every day than that. As Taschen ask: “Ever heard of surrealist fine dining?”
Well, Dalí tried his best to explain it himself. “Les diners de Gala is uniquely devoted to the pleasures of taste,” he said of his utterly unique cookbook. “If you are a disciple of one of those calorie-counters who turn the joys of eating into a form of punishment, close this book at once; it is too lively, too aggressive, and far too impertinent for you.”
However, therein the book doesn’t necessarily document calorific concoctions, and more so the same mad imaginings he put to canvas merely this time they are constructed out of foodstuff. After all, we are dealing with a man who when caring for a wounded bat, saw one morning that it had been swarmed by ants, and unthinkingly picked it up and simply bit its head off. Bon Apetit.
In this wild collection Dalí pairs Hieronymus Bosch-like hellscapes with some sort of copulating turkey recipe. The moustachioed madman also renders a pastiche of his melting clocks out of meat. Cannibalism is juxtaposed alongside a towering cannon of lobsters and soon followed by a genuinely delicious sounding recipe for ‘Fruit Cream’ in a cacophony of his own whimsical kitchen-based passion project.
As Taschen explains of the surrealist publication: “This reprint features all 136 recipes over 12 chapters, specially illustrated by Dalí, and organized by meal courses, including aphrodisiacs. The illustrations and recipes are accompanied by Dalí’s extravagant musings on subjects such as dinner conversation: ‘The jaw is our best tool to grasp philosophical knowledge.'”
Brilliantly baffling and endlessly alluring, this collection not only offers one of the most insightful looks into the mind of Dalí at his unhindered best, but the breadth of the creativity involved and the undeniable skill is a mark of an artist who found artistry so simple that he was able to allow his mind to wander like a lost child in a mausoleum of oddities. It is a jaunt to relish, as he said himself, “Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure: That of being Salvador Dali.”