Who knew Andy Wahol had written a cookbook? I didn’t until yesterday – when I stumbled on it by accident whilst looking for fun art to use in the kids room in McG. I keyworded quirky+bright+unusual and google fetched Wild Raspberries. A cookbook Warhol co-authored with interior decorator and girl-about-town-hostess Suzie Frankfurt in 1959.
History has it that Frankfurt spotted Andy’s work at Serendipity, Manhattan’s most famous ice-cream parlour. She like what she saw and engineered an introduction – which took place in the fourth-floor walkup he shared with his mother, Julia Warhola: “Andy greeted me as if we had known each other for years. He was especially fascinated by the fact I grew up in Malibu and had lived next door to [the actress] Myrna Loy”
They met for lunch later that week, became fast friends and decided to collaborate: “We had to write a funny cookbook for people who don’t cook. My mother, who was a hostess sine qua non, deemed the most important thing for a new bride was to be a good hostess. I wanted to emulate my mother, of course, and it was the year all these French cookbooks came out. I tried to make sense of them. ‘Make a béchamel sauce,’ they’d say. I didn’t even know what that was.”
The result is sweetly whimsical and now worth a fortune: “So we did the book, Andy with his Dr. Martin’s dyes and Mrs. Warhol [Andy’s mother], her calligraphy. She was gifted and untutored, and we left all the spelling mistakes. I wrote the recipes.”
A sample of which made me smile: “A+P Surprise. Buy a 2 day old sponge cake at the A+P and cut in three 3/4 inch layers. Soak for exactly 36 hours in 1/2 cup rum, 2 1/2 tablespoons confectioners sugar and 1/2 cup water. Spread on each later sieved apricot jam and pastry cream. Top with poached apricot halves and cherries. Glaze with jelly and let set. Dust with confectioners sugar and pistachio nuts and decorate with whipped cream piped around the edges.”
The illustrations is just as quirky – Warhol has managed to make every dish look like a dessert. Whether a salad jelly bombe with bird parts (popular at political dinners in the ’30s) or roasted armadillo upended on a platter, looking for all the world like it is hoping for a belly rub: everything looks like it should be accompanied by strawberry ice-cream.
Four schoolboys, who lived upstairs from Mrs Warhola were hired to hand-color the books: coming down each day after class to work. The process was so painstaking that Warhol and Frankfurt only produced 34 full-color books, which they then took downtown for rabbis to hand-bind. Frankfurt’s son noted in his introduction to the reissue forty years later (1997): “Like a great chef, he (Andy) would create the art, and then direct an assembly line of assistants to put it together.” A way of working that would became Warhol’s trademark.
But, to the friends’ disappointment, their labour of love wasn’t a hit and, apart from a few they placed in a couple of NYC bookstores – the rest were given to friends and family as Christmas presents.
Mrs. Frankfurt was a bit embarrassed by Wild Raspberries . “It’s really beautiful, but it’s a little dippy.” she told the New York Observer. “Maybe it’s not. I guess the world has evolved so people are almost only always getting takeout. That’s what the book is, ‘Roll the chauffeur over to Trader Vic’s side entrance and pick up a suckling pig. Order two fighting gefilte fish in the Bronx.’
Suzie Frankfurt’s friendship with Andy Warhol continued until his death in 1987. His diaries mention her dozens of times: “It was Suzie Frankfurt’s birthday,” Warhol reported on Aug. 21, 1980, “so we were having a lunch for her. She invited everybody she wanted (party decorations $84).”
I wonder who catered?
(Read more about Wild Raspberries here. Images in the public domain.)