Fiona Ross has scavenged juicy tidbits of gastronomic intrigue from the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Her efforts are now compiled into a book of gossipy essays from her series, Dining with Destiny — Dining with the Famous and Infamous. Yet, despite the compelling title of her new book, Ross’ subjects seem to be in attendance elsewhere, just out of reach.
Ross gathers an impressive amount of detail on the eating and dining proclivities of such larger-than-life names as Agatha Christie, Frank Sinatra, Picasso and Liz Taylor. Unfortunately, each chapter reads more like a book report and the storytelling is scattershot. As biographer, I found Ross a distraction from her subjects. If not for their fame/infamy, I’d have left this one closed.
In describing a meal of cold grey bean soup author Truman Capote served his guests, including artist Andy Warhol, Ross bounces back and forth referring to these two as either Truman, Capote, Warhol or Andy. I was racing to juggle names, even within one paragraph.
The book includes recipes of the author’s invention, which are a funny read, but seem more a quirky way to realize events and not really meant for consumption. These are unaided by the book’s lackluster design. Cover notwithstanding, the inside is downright boring — think Kindle book circa 2008.
I hate not liking a book, especially one written by a passionate author who has clearly put forth a great deal of effort in her entertainment. The oddball habits of Ross’ famous and infamous persons are prime gossip material, yet I struggled to dig in.
Who should buy this? Food-loving vintage celebrity gossip fiends
Note: Having all these details in one place is the lure of Dining with the Famous and Infamous. If you’re at all curious about how the other half eats, definitely find a copy at your local library.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Similar books to consider reading:
The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook by Alice B. Toklas
The Modern Art Cookbook by Mary Ann Caws
Modern Art Desserts: Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Confections, and Frozen Treats Based on Iconic Works of Art by Caitlin Freeman
Dining with Celebrities by Selma Cherkas
Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe: Top chefs open their home refrigerators by Adrian Moore + Carrie Solomon
Photo from Salavador Dali’s Les Diners de Gala via Brain Pickings articles, Salvador Dalí’s Rare, Erotic Vintage Cookbook and The MoMA Cookbook: Vintage Recipes and Reflections on Food by Salvador Dalí, Louise Bourgeois, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, and Other Great Artists.