One of my Christmas
presents last year, from my husband Peter Haberkorn, was a copy of The Futurist Cookbook, by F.T. Marinetti: A compendium of recipes that are at turn disgusting and beautiful,
but that also read like description of a new world that could be equally
horrible and deliriously delicious. I would not necessarily use Marinetti's 1932
text (nor its updated translation) as a culinary bible, but, in reading through it, I came upon this
inspiring idea on how to turn this week’s celebration into a spatio-culinary
revelry filled with ambition instead of nostalgia. Happy New Year, everybody.
Ed. note: The following passage is excepted from F.T. Marinetti's The Futurist Cookbook, translated by Suzanne Brill, edited by Lesley Chamberlain
(Bedford Arts, San Francisco, 1989). Multiple editions of the translation exist; we've linked to the most readily available edition; another is available via Penguin Classics.
Nowadays habit has killed the joy in big dinners on New Year’s eve: For many years the same elements have conspired to produce a happiness which has been enjoyed too often. Everyone knows in advance the precise mechanism of events.
Family memories, felicitations and forecasts roll out like newspapers from presses. Old habits must be cast off to escape this monotony.
There are a thousand ways to revitalize this occasion: here is one which we put to the test with the Futuresimultaneitists in Rome: Mattia, Belli, D’Avila, Pandolfo, Battistella, Vignazia, etc.
At midnight after the endless chit-chat of waiting it is announced that dinner is served. In the dining room the tables have been removed and the guests are seated on chairs placed in a row, Indian file, one behind the other.
The inevitable turkey arrives, served by the waiters on metal plates: the turkey is stuffed with mandarins and salami.
Everyone eats in compulsory silence: the desire for noise and jollity is suppressed.
Then suddenly a live turkey is let loose in the room, and it flounders about in terror, to the surprise of the men and the squeals of the women who can’t understand this resurrection of the food they’ve just eaten. Order is re-established and everyone puts away his momentarily uncontained joy.
Beaten by the silence, in an attempt to start any sort of conversation one of those present says:
“I haven’t yet expressed my good wishes for the New Year.”
Then as if following an order they all jump up and hurl themselves against the unwary conservator of tradition, whom they pummel repeatedly. Finally, happiness, exasperated by too much inaction, explodes and the guests disperse about the house, the most daring invading the kitchen.
The cook and two waiters are removed by force and everyone sets to thinking up a way of varying the meal. A fierce competition between the hot ovens, while frying pans and saucepans pass from hand to hand amidst laughter, shouts and a rain of ingredients.
Meanwhile others have discovered the wine cellar and thus an exceptional banquet is put together, which goes from kitchen to bedroom, from entrance hall to bathroom, to cellar. The dishes, put together almost by magic, follow one upon the other in the spirit of speed and harmony that animates the new cooks.
A guest tells the owner of the house, “Fifteen years ago, on this same date...”
But that same moment he is presented with a bowl full of spumante with cauliflowers, slices of lemon and roast beef floating in it: the memory of the past is shipwrecked in a stunning present.
The youngest guests shout, “Bury your memories! We must start the year in a quite different way from the pre-war banquets!”
Three gramophones function as tables and from on top of the records, which have become rotating plates, people pluck little sugarcoated candies, cylinders of Parmesan cheese and hard-boiled eggs, while three different rhythms of Japanese music accompany the dynamic service.
The owner of the house suddenly turns out the lights. Stupefaction. In the darkness the voice of one of the guests is heard:
“This year will succeed in breaking through the envelope of the atmosphere and reach the planets. I invite you all to a banquet next New Year’s Eve on the moon, where will finally taste foods of a flavor unknown to our palates and unimaginable drinks!”
—Formula by the Futurist
Auropainter Fillìa (né Luigi Colombo)
Aaron Betsky is a regularly featured columnist whose stories appear on this website each week. His views and conclusions are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine nor of the American Institute of Architects.
Aaron Betsky is a critic and author of more than a dozen books on art, architecture, and design. Trained at Yale, Betsky has worked as a designer for Frank O. Gehry & Associates and Hodgetts + Fung, taught at SCI-Arc, and served as the director of the 11th Venice International Architecture Biennale. He is currently the dean at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin and Taliesin West.