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OP: The Ballet Cook Book (signed)

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by Tanaquil Le Clercq

Stein and Day, 1966. Hardcover. Very Good in a Fair jacket. Signed, first printing.

In the 40 years that we have been in business, this is only the third time we have had a copy of The Ballet Cook Book (1966) to offer. It has remained elusive and very much in demand, a dazzling who’s who of dance, filled with recipes, black and white photographs, and richly anecdotal biographical essays, assembled by former ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq (1929–2000). 

Le Clercq entertainingly integrates stories of how her subjects grew up and became dancers, of their careers, and of their love of good food. Nearly all of the dishes—as many as six or eight from some of the dancers—come from their own kitchen repertoires or from members of their families. 

In a few cases where the dancer is simply not a cook (Rudolf Nureyev, for example), the offering is food recalled, with a recipe from a relative or a friend. In Nureyev’s case there is—naturally—a good Russian borscht given him by the mother of ballerina Nora Kaye (née Koreff). The quality and selection of nearly all of the recipes in the book is impressive. 

To drop just a few names of participants—dancers, choreographers, and others—we’ll mention Margot Fonteyn, Suzanne Farrell, Jacques D’Amboise, Edward Villela (beer soup!), Maria Tallchief, Arthur Mitchell, Melissa Hayden, Robert Joffrey (three borschts), Allegra Kent (cheese blintzes), Sir Fredrick Ashton (kedgeree and a plum pudding), George Balanchine, and, of course, Le Clerq herself—who was the fourth and last of Ballanchine’s wives.

The book, published by Stein and Day, is well produced on good stock. The dust jacket is unclipped but well worn, showing chipping and creasing with a two-inch chunk missing from the back. Closed tears to the jacket previously repaired with tape. Now in a mylar sleeve to prevent further damage. The book block shows signs of use with some food staining but is largely clean. 

Ours is a first printing, signed with the intimate “Tanny,” rather than a full autograph, suggesting a closer relationship with the recipient. It is inscribed to Phyllis [Hirschfeld] (1923–2006) who was a neighbor of Kitchen Arts and Letters and lived at Park Avenue and 92nd. We know of no other signed copies on the market. 

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