Les Diners de Gala: Dali’s Cookbook of Food, Art and Surrealism

“One can chose not to eat, one cannot accept to eat poorly” – Salvador Dalí

Inspiration for a Thanksgiving Feast?

With the holidays coming up (ahem *cough cough*) I thought it was a good time to bring attention to one of my all-time coveted items: a cookbook celebrating gastronomy and passionate, decadent consumption of food and art featuring elaborate food still lifes, original drawings and paintings by Salvador Dalí.

In 1973 Les Diners de Gala (Gala’s Dinners) was published as a collaboration between Dalí  and a “secret” chef in collaboration with some of the top French restaurants of the time. In true Dali fashion, Les Diners de Dali moves between ‘sado-masochistic pleasure’, ‘acute sybaritism’, Rabelaisian scatology, religious ecstasy, and anaesthetic asceticism.”

Nocturnal Cravings

“Nocturnal Cravings”—Chapter 11: sweets and desserts.

The book also contains nuggets of information such as the following: “I attribute capital esthetic and moral values to food in general, and to spinach in particular.  The opposite of shapeless spinach, is armor.  I love eating suits of arms, in fact I love all shell fish…food that only a battle to peel makes it vulnerable to the conquest of our palate.”

Sodomized entrees

“Sodomized Entrees”—Chapter 4: meats.

In conjunction with the release of the book Dalí also produced a suite called Les Diners De Gala (Released in 1977). The 12 lithograph suite is a surrealist twist on some of Dalí’s favorite meals. These works are a result of Dalí experimenting with mixed media and they are often regarded as some of Dalí’s most unique prints.

“Les Cannibalismes de L’Automne”

With 136 recipes in 12 categories, the collection of strange recipes includes an entire chapter on aphrodisiacs, correct use of atteletes (meat jewellery) and sketches of limbless dwarves eating eggs, among other things.

“Soft Watches Half Asleep”—Chapter 11: sweets and desserts.


“The I Eat Gala’s”—Chapter 10: aphrodisiacs.

Here is a newsreel from 1941, in which Salvador Dali designs and hosts a party held in the Bali Room of the Hotel Del Monte, Monterey, California. The event was titled Night in a Surrealist Forest and it was a fund raiser to help European artists displaced by the war.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is a recipe from Les Diners de Gala for Young Turkey with Roquefort (after the jump):

1 Young turkey

1 White Blood Sausage

7 Ounces of Roquefort cheese

3 “petits-suisses” cheeses-nutmeg (swiss knight wedges)

1 Tablespoon of oil

1 Tablespoon fo flour

3 Cups of Water

2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes

2 Carrots

2 Onions

10 Ounces of roquefort cheese

6 Ounces of breadcrumbs

3 ½ Ounces of corn flower

1 Egg Yolk

2 Eggs

1 Quart of water

2 Tablespoons of breadcrumbs

1 Tablespoon of butter

Pick a tender and well-fleshed young turkey. Clean it and pass it through a flame; we are going to stuff it. In a salad bowl, combine the white blood sausage, roquefort cheese, “petits-suisses”. Add salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg. Stuff the young turkey; sew up the bird.

In a saucepan, put the tablespoon of oil and in it brown the tablespoon of flour. When it turns light brown, add water, sliced carrots, chicken bouillon and sliced onions. At boiling point, add the bird. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. At the same time, mash the 10 ounces of roquefort cheese with the breadcrumbs, corn flour, egg yolk, 2 eggs, salt. Blend into a smooth paste.

Bring the quart of water to a boil, add salt. Using a spoon put the paste into the water (each spoonful should hold about the size of an egg). When the puffs start floating, remove them and drain them on a dish towel. Then roll them in breadcrumbs.


Remove the turkey, strain the gravy, skim the fat off and keep it warm to serve in a gravy-boat.

Place the turkey in a baking dish surrounded with the puffs. At the bottom of the dish put the tablespoon of butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Watch it: the puffs turn golden very quickly; you will have to turn them several times.





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