Elasticakes and Tennis Chops

Marinetti, Fillippo Tommaso. The Futurist Cookbook. Trans. Suzanne Brill. San Francisco: Bedford Arts, 1989.

Written by F. T. Marinetti, The Futurist Cookbook was published in 1932 in Italy. The book aimed to bring the tenets of Futurism into the kitchen, via “aerofood” served at meals with grandiose names like the “Synthesis of Italy Dinner” and the “Get-Up-to-Datee.” Marinetti had a special vitriol for pasta; he felt it made the Italians sluggish and complacent. He proposed a radical new cuisine, based on the idea of food as art rather than food as sustinence. Lesley Chamberlain, in her introduction to the cookbook, argues that Marinetti’s proposal was, in fact, “one of the best artistic jokes of the century.” The thrust of the book does seem to be more about performance than consumption, but serious or not, it’s certainly good fun.

The names of the dishes are all fantastic. Some of my favorites: Tasty Equator + North Pole; Like a Cloud; Futurist Risotto with Cape Gooseberries; Carnaleap; More-Less-By-Division; Fisticuff Stuff; Manandwomanatmidnight; Strawberry Breasts; Senate of the Digestion; Pocket Book Turnips; and, of course, Carrot + Trousers = Professor. A few of the recipes are also accompanied by helpful little illustrations, like the Tennis Chop below:

I’m also fond of this illustration for the Elasticake. I think the prune looks like a tiny beret:

The recipes are, on the whole, more lyrical than useful, more focused on the placement and consumption of the ingredients than on their taste. For example:

(formula by the Futurist Aeropoet Escadamè)

Three sea dates, a half-moon of red watermelon, a thicket of radicchio, a little cube of Parmesan, a little sphere of gorgonzola, 8 tiny balls of caviare, 2 figs, 5 amaretti di Saronno biscuits: all arranged neatly on a large bed of mozzarella, to be eaten, eyes closed, letting one’s hands wander here and there, while the great painter and word-in-liberty poet Depero recites his famous song ‘Jacopson’.

It all sounds so round and lovely, but I can’t imagine it would actually be a nice snack. Nor would most of the dishes; but they do make for excellent reading.

More by Marinetti: The Futurist Manifesto, The Untameables, Futurismo e Fascismo, and Mafarka the Futurist.

3 comments to Elasticakes and Tennis Chops

  • Hi there I like your post “Elasticakes and Tennis Chops” so well that I like to ask you whether I should translate into German and linking back. Greetings Engel

  • kimbeeman

    Thank you! It would be great if you translated it. Let me know how it goes!

  • Sue G.

    I have this book; it was given to me as a gift. I haven’t looked at it in quite a while. I think some of it might remind me of what Grant Achatz is doing these days.

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