Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lautrec: a culinary artist ...

The art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec has always communicated a zest for life - exhuberant and joyful. It took a bit of happenstance for me to learn that his culinary ability was equally inventive and masterful.

I had the good fortune to come across the book, 'The Art of Cuisine' at a Les Dames d'Escoffier fundraising book sale. There on the sale table was a book of Lautrec's meticulous recipes, illustrated with the paintings and drawings he used to decorate his dinner invitations and menus.

I quickly paid for my incredible find and immediately began to read the culinary legacy of one of my favorite creative talents.

Lautrec's lifelong friend and Paris gallery director Maurice Joyant, preserved their daily intercourse in art and cuisine, and as executor of Lautrec's estate, compiled this abundant trove of recipes and drawings in their original form.

Originally published in French under the title 'L'Art de la Cuisine' in 1966, the book was translated to English that same year with some additional culinary notes added to "facilitate the work of modern food lovers." I am thrilled to now own a copy from that first printing in English!

How I would have loved to be a guest at the Friday night dinners Lautrec hosted in Montmartre. The artist/gourmand showed his fabulous wit in his paintings as well as his invented recipes - both showing his indulgence in the excesses of life.

The Art of Cuisine is equal parts cookbook, art catalogue and biography.  I am so glad one of Les Dames parted with this volume from their personal library. Thank you ladies, I love it.

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