In 1966 Balanchine muse Tanaquil Le Clercq published a cookery book called, simply, the Ballet Cook Book. The recipes were contributed by important figures from the ballet world: Frederick Ashton, Suzanne Farrell, Jerome Robbins and the master himself, George Balanchine. Over at Bodies Never Lie they thought it would be fun to recreate some of these dishes, and now on their second instalment they’ve whipped up dishes by another Balanchine muse, Diana Adams.
The recipes Adams chose to share — obviously rooted in her Tennessee upbringing — aren’t what you would expect from a ballerina. Most are high in calories and heavy in sugar, and remarkably few of the entries feature fruits or vegetables. Those of us at the table found it difficult to believe that the svelte Adams ate these dishes often. Her dishes all also looked very similar: Only after serving the meal — which consisted of hush puppies, shrimp bisque, chicken in buttermilk spoonbread, yam pudding, and pecan pie — did we notice that all of the food’s coloring fell somewhere between yellow and brown.
Current New York City Ballet dancer and food enthusiast, Antonio Carmena, was on hand again in the kitchen, and the small team produced Adams’ autumnal dishes.
The meal was ultimately satisfying, but I wasn’t alone in feeling five pounds heavier when I left Susan’s home to trek toward the subway. Tread carefully with this rich menu. Limit your portions, and have a salad for lunch. Or, when going back for second helpings, imagine you’re a leading ballerina ask yourself what Balanchine would have to say.
Go to the Bodies Never Lie blog to see the photos and videos of the evening, but to taste you’ll have to get cooking yourself.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.