The artist’s palate: culinary favourites of famous artists

Updated: Jan 28

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably


for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

- William Carlos Williams

You have stepped into a new world order- one which persists through the pangs of longing for a cherished memory; your life before the pandemic. Being stuck inside a walled existence, you’re trying to outweigh the burden of solitude every day through your own creative gestures that affirm your small victories, be it in taking up the long lost paint brush or cooking a meal that would put a smile on your mother’s face.

Talking of food, you're instantly restored to a certain sense of joy, something that finds you the most guileless pleasure, anointing this newfound paroxysm of unrestrained emotions, unsolicited tears and what not.

It is food - yes food, the seemingly mundane that becomes a springboard for imaginative dives into the depths of mankind’s experience. As inseparable as it is from our daily existence, food and the making of it are underscored by longer reflections and shorter epiphanies about life’s commonalities such as love, sorrow, nostalgia, growing up, the good, the bad and the ugly, all of which becomes a part and parcel of your being and becoming.

As an antidote to this panic-induced present, where the future remains shrouded in uncertainty, we ponder over the intersection of these apparently incongruous worlds of art and food, to suggest how they both are undergirded by the same ingredients of vision, revision, redressal and transformation. To pique both your and our curiosity, we have conjured up an artists’ cookbook in which we have let our guard down in delving deep into the inner psyche of the artists, but funnily in the way we imagine them to be.

So come let’s have a look at what’s cooking inside these artists’ kitchen!

Georgia O’Keeffe’s homegrown essentials

Georgia O’Keeffe cooking Courtesy- The New Yorker

Georgia O’Keeffe and her penchant for healthy diet made her have recourse to a fascinating variety of salads, with its raw ingredients, vegetables and fruits being raised in her own garden. One of her indulgences would be a certain Ambrosia Salad which would be a recipe created as an ode to transcendence. She believed that she could reach her sublime expectations in art through her culinary experiences and as a result, would often be seen to catch a minute with her bowl in between her mythopoeic meditations on natural forms.

Ambrosia Salad

1 ½ cup cool whip

½ c. sour cream

3 c. mini marshmallows

1 (15-oz) mandarin oranges, drained

1 c. chopped fresh pineapple

1 c. shredded coconut

¾ c. halved maraschino cherries (stems removed), drained

¾ c. toasted pecans

In a large bowl, fold together the cool whip and sour cream.

Add oranges, pineapple, cherries, coconut, pecans and marshmallows and stir them gently.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Recipe Courtesy of Delish

Pablo Picasso’s cubist edibles

Pablo Picasso in his studio in Paris in 1948 Courtesy- The New York Times

Pablo Picasso was a passionate creator, as we all know. When we fall back on his convoluted relationships with women, we’re confronted with tumultuous love affairs, all the more exposing his attunement with carnal pleasures, which got visually translated to his art. A progenitor of avant-gardism, we tend to flock to his persona like a moth to a flame. But it’s not just his artistic profundity which lends to his character, instead you’d be surprised to know that he channelized his creativity also in the food he ate. We’re thrilled to talk about his eating habits that included his favourite Shrimp Scampi Bake, a recipe he created to serenade the spirit of Dionysus.

Shrimp Scampi Bake

1 cup butter

2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 pounds medium raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, with tails attached

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, mustard, lemon juice, garlic and parsley. When the butter melts completely, remove from the heat. Arrange the shrimp in a baking dish and pour the butter mixture over the shrimp. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque.

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes

Burning the midnight oil with Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani, 1909 Courtesy- Tate

Amedeo Modigliani, having died young at the age of thirty five was sealed in the public consciousness as a prophet of melancholia that comes with the idea of loss as he bereft the world of his artistic genius too soon. Not many would know, but he was a man who lived on his own terms and was way ahead of his time in rendering his female portraits a sense of reserved mystery through their characteristic blank and impermeable eyes, that gazed right back at the viewer. A lover of poems, who regularly recited Dante, he was also known for his occasional sweet-tooth cravings that made him launch into a frenzy of midnight baking, often taking the shape of beautiful desserts. The most coveted of them would be the Tiramisu, which he lovingly concocted in defiance of sleep.


12-15 Savoiardi sponge fingers (also known as Ladyfingers)

4 eggs

100g caster sugar

Amaretto liqueur or Brandy

500g mascarpone cheese

2 cups cold coffee

Cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Beat whipping cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add mascarpone cheese and amaretto to it and continue to whip until the peaks stiffen. Dunk ladyfingers in coffee and place then in a pan to make the first layer. Spread half of the whipped cream mixture over the first layers of ladyfingers. Repeat the process for the second time. Dust the top with cocoa powder using a sieve and then refrigerate for about 2-4 hours.

Recipe courtesy of Food East

Wassily Kandinsky toasting to life

Wassily Kandinsky, 1922 Courtesy- Wikimedia Commons

Wassily Kandinsky was often derided by critics as a madman for ushering in the wave of abstract painting in a world of stringent figures. His compositions were full of staccato bursts of colours and lines, derived from the harmony of music. A man of unbridled zest for life, he sought after rejuvenating ties with nature and distilling it into his art. Of his many passions, he was also known for having a particular knack for cocktails, which added to his creative fervour. Bloody Mary, as we all know of and like, was one of Kandinsky’s guilty pleasures, which he never shied away from.

Bloody Mary

1 ½ cups ice cubes

4 fluid ounces tomato juice

1 ½ fluid ounces vodka

¼ fluid ounce fresh lemon juice

4 dashes hot pepper sauce

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 pinch salt and ground black pepper

1 stalk celery, lemon wedge and cherry tomato, for garnish


Fill a large cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Pour tomato juice, vodka, lemon juice and add hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and black pepper to it. Stir until chilled, then strain into a tall glass with ice, and garnish with a celery stalk, lemon wedge and a cherry tomato.

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes

Marina Abramovic, the fortuneteller

Marina Abramovic, ‘THE KITCHEN VIII’, 2009 Courtesy- Dazed

Marina Abramovic, the fairy godmother of performance art is an enigma that provokes scrutiny as well as defers it. Often found to be experimenting with her body, she tends to upset the boundaries of her physical peripheries as well as the spirit, She brings the public into the domain of her performance, where she confronts them and disturbes the representation of risk by surrendering herself to the varied experiences of the audience which are ruleless reactions to her act. Abramovic is an intense woman who thinks about questions that elude laymen, but there’s a part of her that feels homesick like we all do, especially when she is reminded of her native Turkish Coffee that was a ritual when she was growing up. She even recalls that much like tea leaf reading, fortune can be told by the coffee grinds left in the cup!

Turkish Coffee

1 cup water (cold)

1 tablespoon extra finely ground coffee

⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom (or 1 cardamom pod, crushed)

1 teaspoon sugar

Boil water and sugar, preferably in an ibrik, which if not available, can be substituted with a saucepan. Remove from heat and add coffee and cardamom. Return the saucepan to heat and allow it to come to a boil. Remove from heat when the coffee foams. Again, return to heat, and allow it to foam and remove from heat. Now pour it into demitasse cups and allow it to sit for a few minutes for the grounds to settle to the bottom of the cups. If using a cardamom pod, it can be served with the coffee for added flavour.

Recipe Courtesy of The Spruce Eats

These quintessential recipes offer a glimpse into the artists’ personal choices, as though reading them we get to rediscover shades of their life and art in a new light. It lifts the veil of fantasy and otherworldliness that usually shields them from the common mass and allows us an intimacy with them which can only be evoked through the most common denominator which is food. Knowing about Picasso’s comfort food or Ambramovic’s nostalgia-laden special coffee strips them of their vanity and strangeness and makes them just one of us.

However we would like to add that the above recipes are what we imagined these artists’ choices to be and we are not claiming they actually recommended these exact recipes anywhere! As Picasso himself observed, “Everything you can imagine is real,”, we too are devoted to this thought, so much so that we even literalized Picasso writing a letter to Dora Maar as a rumination vis-a-vie the current crisis, in our blog which you can read here.

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