Books

Seven cookbooks for art lovers

From Mondrian-inspired cakes to Dalí's Surreal concoctions, these books offer recipes for all (art) tastes

The finale of the Great British Bake Off 2018 comes to our screens tonight (30 October). The popular TV series, in which amateur bakers battle it out to become Britain's best home cooks, never underestimates the high-skill technical science that baking can sometimes be. Therefore, it’s easy to see why art and cooking are often linked.

From Dürer to Dalí, there have been many figures throughout art history that felt as at home with a palette knife as they did with a palette. When there is such a vast wealth of artists and art historians who have written their own cookbooks, if you fancy yourself as the new Pollock-cum-Paul Hollywood, here are some recipe books to try.

Dinner with Jackson Pollock
Assouline Publishing

Dinner with Jackson Pollock by Robyn Lea: This cookbook is an insight into how Pollock was as expressive in his cooking as he was in his painting. Collected together from a series of pages handwritten by the artist himself, as well as his friends and family, it is full of pictures of art and anecdotes about the artist. It spans all sections of the meal, but in the words of his wife Lee Krasner, it was in desserts that Pollock particularly excelled. “He was very fastidious about his baking—marvellous bread, cake, and apple pies”, explains Krasner in the book alongside Pollock’s apple pie recipe that won first prize at his local fisherman’s fair.

Les Diners de Gala
TASCHEN GmbH

Les Diners de Gala by Salvador Dalí: “If you are one of those calorie-counters who turn the joys of eating into a form of punishment, close this book at once,” the artist himself once said about this book. Les Diners de Gala is a collection of over a hundred recipes by Dalí, illustrated with his art and comments on features of the dinner table. With recipe contributions from Parisien restaurants including Maxim’s and La Tour d’Argent, it is a Surrealist chef’s bible, from its seafood to its pork, with a large helping of snails and frogs in between. Seeing as how he was an artist who always believed in the sexual connotations of food, be sure to keep reading for chapter ten, all about aphrodisiacs.

The Starving Artist Cookbook
Courtesy of Countryman Press

The Starving Artist Cookbook by Sara Zin: An artist and a chef, Zin’s cookbook is almost an autobiography told in food form, describing the therapeutic effects that both painting and cooking have had on her life. What started out as a Tumblr blog about food has turned into this illustrated book featuring paintings of her cooking. The book, recommended for beginner chefs, shows food and drink recipes that she has discovered along her journey from complete cooking novice all the way up to celebrated foodie.

The Art of Gay Cooking
Courtesy of Outpost19

The Art of Gay Cooking by Daniel Isengart: Introducing the book to the world through a performance at Brooklyn art space The Invisible Dog, Isengart designed this book as a “gay adaptation” and tribute to a 1954 cookbook by Alice B. Toklas, which is most famous for its Hashish Fudge recipe. Born in Munich but based in New York, Isengart shows his eccentric approach to home cooking, all seasoned with anecdotes about growing up interested in cooking: “a young man wearing an apron was regarded as being a mere step away from cross-dressing,” he remembers.

Dürer's Little Cookbook
Ars Vivendi Verlag

Dürer’s Little Cookbook by Petra Teetz: While you would most associate culinary experiments with more experimental art, this book—promising ‘yesterday’s recipes for today’s food lovers’—explores the links between the food and artwork of the Renaissance. It's not without its speculation—accounts of the dinner table of Albrecht Dürer are based on culinary etiquette of the time as well as his actual notes, but there are some interesting links in this book to the influence of the seasons and religion, on both cooking and art.

Monet's Table
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Monet’s Table—the Cooking Journals of Claude Monet by Claire Joyes: A distant relative of the artist himself, Joyes uses this book to show the cooking life of Monet. She describes influences from the French countryside that also influenced the artist's work while living in Giverny, and illustrates it with Monet’s artwork and photographs of the local countryside. Monet's Table gives an opportunity to discover what Monet would have eaten whilst hosting guests for lunch—he went to bed early so that he could be awake at dawn and would therefore never host guests for dinner. Renoir’s Table was later released as a companion volume by publishing company Simon & Schuster, celebrating the cooking habits and artwork of another of the great Impressionist painters.

Modern Art Desserts
Courtesy of Ten Speed Press

Modern Art Desserts by Caitlin Freeman: As someone who was first inspired to bake by the confectionary paintings of Wayne Thiebaud, Freeman’s recipe book is a full journey into her more artistic side. The woman behind Blue Bottle Coffee shows Modern art in all kinds of culinary forms, from Lichtenstein cake and Laskey Lemon Soda to Kahlo wedding cookies and Koons white hot chocolate.