This fall, bestseller lists have been crowded with cookbooks from culinary heavy hitters. Ina Garten released an ode to her husband Jeffrey, Alton Brown returned from a five-year cookbook hiatus, and Anthony Bourdain published his first book in a decade. In a season of blockbuster cookbooks, there has also been one unlikely hit—a reprint of an opulent cookbook by Salvador Dalí that's been out of print for 40 years.
Dalí: Les dîners de Gala, released by Taschen on November 24, tours the recipes the late surrealist master and his wife and muse, Gala, whipped up for their infamous and elaborate dinner parties. The book, which retails for $60, sold just over 4,000 copies in its first week on sale, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks roughly 80% of print sales, and also topped Amazon’s Holiday & Entertaining new releases list.
The book was first published in 1973 by Felicie, Inc., New York, an imprint run by Felicie Balay, a gallerist, artist manager, and acquaintance of Salvador Dalí. It was translated from French and released in the U.S. the same year.
“From historical reviews and personal recounts from collectors, it sounds like the book was enormously successful on release,” said Creed Poulson, Taschen's managing director. The book includes a warning from Dalí himself: “If you are a disciple of one of those calorie-counters who turn the joys of eating into a form of punishment, close this book at once; it is too lively, too aggressive, and far too impertinent for you.”
Indeed, the recipes aren’t for the faint of heart, and the publisher acknowledges that while the dishes can be cooked at home, “some will require practiced skill and a well-stocked pantry.” Highlights include Mulligan of Ox Tail, Calf’s Brains with Bacon, Grilled Lamb’s Head, Frog Pasties, and an Eel Pate, which calls for living eels. Even in his recipe for the more familiar Avocado Toast, ubiquitous today on hipster menus and beyond, Dalí leads with the following directive: “The first thing you must do is prepare the brains."
With illustrations by the artist, the book, an exact facsimile of the original 1973 English edition, also functions as an art book. It is performing just as well is museum bookstores as it is in major retailers, according to Poulson.
“I think the book hits a sweet spot in many complimentary categories,” added Poulson. “Food lovers, art lovers, history buffs, collectors, chefs. Dalí is one of the most popular artists of all time, and while many Dalí fans had heard of this book many had never seen it or looked inside.”
When asked if the publisher anticipated the attention the book has received, Poulson pointed to the fact that it became a “sought after collectible after its first release, and 40 years later was nearly an object of myth, so we hoped but also predicted that the media and public would be as excited as we were about the new edition.”
2 tablespoons of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
½ bunch of parsley sprigs
1 clove of garlic, crushed
36 small frog’s legs
4 tablespoons of flour
2 egg yolks
1 egg white
9 ozs of cream cheese shortening
9 ozs yogurt
1 container of heavy cream
1 bunch of chives, chopped
1 tablespoon of pepper (unground)
In the butter, sauté the finely chopped shallot and parsley for 5 minutes. Then add the frogs legs as well as the garlic. Add salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Prepare a sauce by whipping the heavy cream and mixing into the yogurts, chopped chives, the pepper and salt. Set aside and chill.
In a salad bowl, mix flour with egg yolks and cream cheese. Add the boned frogs legs. Since they are now cold, you just have to seize them with your fingers, and pull along the bones to get the flesh sliding down. Mix everything very well, add salt and pepper.