6 Books on Art and Food A Shelfie from Alexandria Sivak, Senior Communications Specialist at the Getty Trust
Hi! My name is Alexandria Sivak, and I’m a senior communications specialist at the Getty. In addition to art history, my greatest
passion is cooking, and I am always looking for ways in which the two
intersect. Here are some of my favorite books that do just that.
This book shows how food was used to
created elaborate, edible works of art throughout history. I’m a huge fan of
the Great British Bake-Off, and I think the challenges on that show reflect how
we still strive to make food beautiful for celebrations.
I am always looking for books on
the history of food, and the history of bitters is particularly fascinating. They
were once believed to have medicinal properties, and are now seeing a
resurgence in fancy cocktails. I just recently began drinking Fernet, which is
a cousin of bitters, and equally um…bitter.
One of my first assignments when I
began working at the Getty was to write a post for the Getty Iris about a
Gothic desserts cooking class. I remember thinking that medieval cooking was
anything but ‘dark’—if you were wealthy, you were using exotic Silk Road
ingredients in your sweets—like rosewater and saffron.
I find myself wondering what
artists are munching on when they work—like, what was Picasso eating while
painting Guernica? What sustained Rivera while he worked on those murals? This
book answers some of those questions and has a ton of great recipes too!
When I recently visit the Vatican,
I stopped by nearby Bonci, one of most well-known pizzarias in Italy. There’s
something fantastic about walking through St. Peter’s with a belly full of
pizza. I picked up this book while I was there—it gives away some of Bonci’s
During the Great Depression, the
Works Progress Administration (WPA) tried to keep writers active by hiring them
to write guidebooks for all 50 states. The “America Eats” project was an
offshoot of that—it attempted to compile regional recipes from across the
U.S. The project was abandoned, but Kurlansky has compiled all the unedited
essays in this book, along with some rare photographs.