Even in the days of Kindle, Abebooks, Amazon and all the online book retailers there are some out of print books so rare that you have to be patient to find a copy, let alone one within budget. I had lusted after a copy of 'The Artists' & Writers' Cookbook' for years, but all the ones I'd come across were hundreds of dollars. Finally the stars aligned a couple of months ago - the (*coughs*)
excuse necessity of research and a bookshop that was closing down in California brought a near pristine copy of the 1961 publication to me. I don't know about you, but I rather like the inscriptions in second hand books - it makes you feel like the caretaker rather than the owner of special books like this - Sybil Boucher had given this one to the previous owner in 1980.
It was worth the wait, a handsomely bound book on heavy stock, and it had me seduced from the dedication:
Couldn't agree more. The book was edited by Beryl Barr and Barbara Turner Sachs, and designed by Nicolas Sidjakov. The illustrations are idiosyncratic and rather wonderful, but have nothing on the recipes. Among the contributions from Alice B Toklas, Elizabeth Frink and Terry Frost ('Leeks a la Cornwall'), there is Man Ray's recipe for a Dadaist day ("Diner: gather wooden darning eggs ... pierce lengthwise. Lay the skewered eggs in an oblong or oval pan and cover with transparent cellophane"). One of the most extraordinary is Pliny's recipe for recreating blood in paint:
One recipe I will be trying out is Marcel Duchamp's Steak Tartare, if only because he says 'it can be prepared on horseback at a swift gallop, if the conditions make this a necessity'. The idea of Cossacks lovingly preparing a 'bird's nest' of the finest chopped beef, in which 'two egg yolks recline' then arranging a 'wreath' of the following ingredients while in full flight is quite wonderful:
Serve with Russian pumpernickel bread, sweet butter and tall bottles of vin rose - enjoy.