Eva Recinos
November 04, 2016 2:50 pm
The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes © 2016, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, illustrated by Amy Jean Porter, published by powerHouse Books

Whether searching for lunch ideas or appetizers for a holiday party, we spend a lot of time thinking about food — and looking for new recipes. Most of the time we’re looking for easy ones, like quick dinner recipes, to get us through the week. But we also appreciate seeing what famous artists, writers, and creatives love to eat and make.

Artist and writer Natalie Eve Garrett brings together two of our favorite things in her new book “The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook.”  She remembers reading about a book by the same name from 1961, which includes more than 200 recipes from people like Harper Lee and Alice B. Toklas.

Her book, beautifully illustrated by Amy Jean Porter, takes a more whimsical approach to the idea of a cookbook by creatives.

“The version from 55 years ago is first and foremost a recipe book; I wanted the focus of my book to be the stories,” wrote Garrett in an email to HelloGiggles.

The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes © 2016, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, illustrated by Amy Jean Porter, published by powerHouse Books

Some recipes are for actual dishes — like James Franco’s “The Utilitarian, American-Style PB&J: An Artist’s Best Friend” — while others are more conceptual, like Nikki S. Lee’s “Nikki’s Egg Bibimpap.” Marina Abromović’s “Selections from Spirit cooking with Essential Aphordisiac Recipes” takes a more imaginative approach to the idea of a recipe. Each one is equally as fun to read.

“I definitely tried to cultivate whimsy, and encouraged contributors to share real recipes but also to feel free to invent imaginary ones too,” wrote Garrett. “It keeps things a bit unpredictable and wild.”

The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes © 2016, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, illustrated by Amy Jean Porter, published by powerHouse Books

Garrett chose the work of artists, writers, and other creators whom she personally admires. It was important to keep a range of recipes – and backgrounds – in the book.

“Many contributors were born elsewhere in the world, and shared stories that delve into their cultural identity and the connections between food and a sense of place,” wrote Garrett. “So often, cookbooks hone in on a particular type of cuisine from a particular region of the world. For me, though, there’s something magical having created a book that contains personal stories and recipes by way of Jamaica, Korea, and Bombay, as well as Los Angeles, New Orleans, Kentucky, the mountains of Idaho, Brooklyn.”

The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes © 2016, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, illustrated by Amy Jean Porter, published by powerHouse Books

Garrett has even cooked up a few of these recipes for herself and her family.

“So far, I’ve made many of the dishes, with pleasure,” wrote Garrett. “I’m newly obsessed with Julia Alvarez’s ginger cookies, as is my six-year-old daughter. Ditto Maile Meloys muffins, Manil Suri’s pie, and all of Francesca Lia Block’s dishes.”

“The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook” offers plenty of dishes to enjoy — but also lots of food for thought. We eat every day, so we might as well look at food as just another source of inspiration. Garrett definitely sees the connection.

The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes © 2016, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, illustrated by Amy Jean Porter, published by powerHouse Books

“I tend to cook the way I paint: with a blend of studiousness and recklessness and instinct. I like to improvise,” wrote Garrett. “I think it’s nice to loosen up sometimes, not fuss about following rules — to take pleasure in the act of making something new and nourishing, whether it’s cooking or writing or art-making.”

The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes © 2016, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, illustrated by Amy Jean Porter, published by powerHouse Books.

What are you eating today? It might be the key to your next creative project.

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