February 5, 2015

Art Object Of The Week: Picasso's Diet

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, 1954

Do you know that Pablo Picasso was on a strict diet? I know, it seems like a very un-Picasso thing to do. But artists' dishes are a good topic - I heard all about it at Kate Brehme’s Coffee Curating and Cultural Management Club last week and I love eating the cake made by artists April Gertler and Adrian Schiesser on their monthly Sonntag event. Back in the days, Picasso frequented Gertrude Stein’s art salon in Paris. Alice B. Toklas, Stein's partner, was an adventurous cook on such occasions. And Gertrude Stein's table arrangements could be pretty wicked too. One time she placed every painter opposite their own picture hanging on the wall. Nobody except Matisse noticed but the overall result was very satisfying: “They were so happy so happy that we had to send out twice for more bread, when you know France you will know that that means that they were happy, because they cannot eat and drink without bread and we had to send out twice for bread so they were happy.” Toklas liked to amuse Picasso with experimental designs, like a fish decorated with hard-boiled eggs (the whites and the yolks apart), truffles and finely chopped fines herbes. Picasso exclaimed its beauty but remarked: “Should it not rather have been made in honour of Matisse than of me.” So what was Picasso’s diet all about? Spinach was one of the things that was highly recommended by his doctor. Toklas made a spinache soufflé and not knowing what sauce Picasso’s diet permitted she surrounded it with equal divisions of Hollandaise sauce, cream sauce, and tomato sauce: “It was my hope that the tri-coloured sauces would make the spinache soufflé look less nourishing. Cruel enigma, said Picasso, when the soufflé was served to him.” 

Gertrude Stein's salon

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