Friday, February 27, 2009

Would you care for the "Drum Roll of Colonial Fish"?

Please to be enjoying "Foodie Friday" here at Fosco Lives!

Fosco missed an important anniversary last Friday: the one hundredth birthday of the Futurist Manifesto. The Manifesto was published by F.T. Marinetti on the front page(!) of Le Figaro. As the BBC notes, the Manifesto seems like a strange thing to celebrate:

It called for the demolition of museums and libraries, contempt for women and the glorification of war, "the world's only hygiene".

It promoted "the beautiful ideas which kill" and claimed that beauty exists only in struggle - so why is the art world celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Futurist Manifesto?

Because when it appeared, on 20 February 1909, it was the first art manifesto of the 20th Century, paving the way for Vorticists, Surrealists, Dada-ists, and Situationists, as well as more recent cultural agitators like the Stuckists.
Sure, it's all a bit creepy and proto-fascistic, but don't you have to appreciate (even a little) a movement that so entirely attempts to revalue all values? Personally, Fosco has always loved tenet #4 of the Manifesto:
We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
I can guarantee that Dale Earnhardt Jr. agrees with that one.

The best reason for us to talk about Futurism on "Foodie Friday" is Marinetti's 1932 publication of The Futurist Cookbook. There aren't many "isms" that provide their own recipes and there is no cookbook that is as amazingly bizarre and hilarious as this one. Actually, the genre confusion is part of the fun here: is this really a cookbook? Is this literature? Is it some kind of imaginary food-writing? Whatever it is, here is Fosco's favorite recipe (not that he's ever tried it, of course):
HEROIC WINTER DINNER (from the “Futurist Cookbook”, 1932)

A group of soldiers who at three o’clock on a January afternoon will have to get into a lorry to enter the line of fire at four, or go up in an aeroplane to bomb cities or counter-attack enemy flights, would seek in vain the perfect preparation for these in the grieving kiss of a mother, of a wife, of children or in re-reading passionate letters.

A dreamy walk is equally inappropriate. So is the reading of an amusing book. Instead these fighters sit down round a table where they are served a ‘DRUM ROLL OF COLONIAL FISH’ and some ‘RAW MEAT TORN BY TRUMPET BLASTS’.

“DRUM ROLL OF COLONIAL FISH”: Poached mullet marinated for twenty-four hours in a sauce of milk, rosolio liqueur, capers and red pepper. Just before serving the fish open it and stuff it with date jam interspersed with discs of banana and slices of pineapple. It will then be eaten to a continuous rolling of drums.

“RAW MEAT TORN BY TRUMPET BLASTS”: cut a perfect cube of beef. Pass an electric current
through it, then marinate it for twenty-four hours in a mixture of rum, cognac and white vermouth. Remove itfrom the mixture and serve on a bed of red pepper, black pepper and snow. Each mouthful is to be chewed carefully for one minute, and each mouthful is divided from the next by vehement blasts on the trumpet blown
by the eater himself.

When it is time for the Peralzarsi; the soldiers are served plates of ripe persimmons, pomegranates, and blood oranges. While these disappear into their mouths, some very sweet perfumes of roses, jasmine, honeysuckle and acacia flowers will be sprayed around the room, the nostalgic and decadent sweetness of which will be roughly rejected by the soldiers who rush like lightning to put their gas masks on.

The moment they are about to leave they swallow the Throat–Explosion, a solid liquid consisting of a pellet of Parmesan cheese steeped in Marsala.
Of course, the question of how seriously to take this is part of the proper enjoyment of the Futurists (at least for contemporary readers). The strange thing is how similar this kind of recipe is to the actual contemporary culinary practice of chefs like Grant Achatz or Homaro Cantu.

If this kind of food writing thrills you, you may enjoy even more the setting of the Marinetti's cookbook to music! American composer Aaron Jay Kernis has written The Four Seasons of Futurist Cuisine for string quartet and narrator. A recording is available on this CD.

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Jill said...

Love the Throat Explosion! Where do you find these things? So interesting!

FOSCO said...

Mostly, it's because I'm interested in EVERYTHING. Which makes me good at blogging, but bad at career focus... :)