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OP: The Futurist Cookbook

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by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti

One of the more flamboyant developments of the Futurist movement that captivated European artists during the late 1920s and early 1930s was the application of its principles to food. 

Adherents of the movement, a cousin of Dada and other counter-rational schools of creativity, stressed abandonment of conventional rules and encouraged imagination and surprise. In 1932, the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876–1944), a spokesman for the new vision of art, published La Cucina Futurista, a cookbook that broke all the rules, putting forward combinations of flavors and textures that shocked traditional thinking, integrating settings, colors, odors, and sounds into the recipes.

Thus, an Autumn Musical Dinner takes place as two couples sit at a rough oak table in a secluded hunter’s cabin; a peasant woman cooks a dinner of chickpeas in oil and vinegar, to which are added seven capers, 25 liqueur cherries, and half a dozen potato chips. During the cooking there is a “long, sharp wail of a violin note escaping from the room on the right belonging to the peasant woman’s convalescent son.” The meal is consumed along with a sip of Barolo wine and a roast quail that is smelled deeply but not eaten. At the end, “four long handshakes to the peasant woman cook and off they all go into the darkness-wind-rain of the forest.”

It took many years for the book to be translated completely, but in 1989 this handsome edition was prepared by Trefoil Publications of London and co-published with Bedford Arts in San Francisco, with a substantial introduction by British food writer and scholar Lesley Chamberlain. The major edition was in paperback, but there was also a modest—and now quite scarce—hardcover version; both are now out of print.

This is a Very Good copy of the Bedford paperback edition. Elegantly designed, it contains numerous photographs of Futurist artists, their work and their banquets.

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