The Futurist Cookbook
with an introduction by Lesley Chamberlain
Penguin Classics, 2014
Both madcap cookbook and manifesto on Futurism, Marinetti’s exuberant and entertaining book has been described as one of ‘the best artistic jokes of the century’
No other cultural force except the early twentieth-century avant-garde movement has produced a provocative work about art disguised as an easy-to-read cookbook.
Part manifesto, part artistic joke, Fillippo Marinetti’s The Futurist Cookbook is a collection of recipes, experiments, declamations and allegorical tales. Here are recipes for ice cream on the moon; candied atmospheric electricities; nocturnal love feasts; sculpted meats. Marinetti also sets out his argument for abolishing pasta as ill-suited to modernity, and advocates a style of cuisine that will increase creativity.
Although at times betraying its author’s nationalistic sympathies, The Futurist Cookbook is funny, provocative, whimsical, disdainful of sluggish traditions and delighted by the velocity and promise of modernity.
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was born in 1876 to Italian parents and grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, where he was nearly expelled from his Jesuit school for championing scandalous literature. He then studied in Paris and obtained a law degree in Italy before turning to literature. In 1909 he wrote the infamous Futurist Manifesto, which championed violence, speed and war, and proclaimed the unity of art and life. Marinetti’s life was fraught with controversy: he fought a duel with a hostile critic, was subject to an obscenity trial, and was a staunch supporter of Italian Fascism.
Alongside his literary activities, he was a war correspondent during the Italo-Turkish War and served on the Eastern Front in World War II, despite being in his sixties. He died in 1944.
‘A paean to sensual freedom, optimism and childlike, amoral innocence … it has only once been answered, by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World‘ – Lesley Chamberlain