The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook
by Alastair Sutherland from Free Agent March 1987 (a Portland Oregon alternative
Republished in the Utne Reader Nov./Dec. 1993
We have been lucky to discover several previously lost diaries of French philosopher
Jean-Paul Sartre stuck in between the cushions of our office sofa. These diaries
reveal a young Sartre obsessed not with the void, but with food. Aparently Sartre,
before discovering philosophy, had hoped to write ``a cookbook that will put to
rest all notions of flavor forever.'' The diaries are excerpted here for your
Spoke with Camus today about my cookbook. Though he has never actually eaten,
he gave me much encouragement. I rushed home immediately to begin work. How excited
I am! I have begun my formula for a Denver omelet.
Still working on the omelet. There have been stumbling blocks. I keep creating
omelets one after another, like soldiers marching into the sea, but each one seems
empty, hollow, like stone. I want to create an omelet that expresses the meaninglessness
of existence, and instead they taste like cheese. I look at them on the plate,
but they do not look back. Tried eating them with the lights off. It did not help.
Malraux suggested paprika.
I have realized that the traditional omelet form (eggs and cheese) is bourgeois.
Today I tried making one out of cigarette, some coffee, and four tiny stones.
I fed it to Malraux, who puked. I am encouraged, but my journey is still long.
I find myself trying ever more radical interpretations of traditional dishes,
in an effort to somehow express the void I feel so acutely. Today I tried this
Ingredients: 1 large casserole dish
Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit
in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on
While a void is expressed in
this recipe, I am struck by its inapplicability to the bourgeois lifestyle. How
can the eater recognize that the food denied him is a tuna casserole and not some
other dish? I am becoming more and more frustrated.
I have been forced to abandon the project of producing an entire cookbook. Rather,
I now seek a single recipe which will, by itself, embody the plight of man in
a world ruled by an unfeeling God, as well as providing the eater with at least
one ingredient from each of the four basic food groups. To this end, I purchased
six hundred pounds of foodstuffs from the corner grocery and locked myself in
the kitchen, refusing to admit anyone. After several weeks of work, I produced
a recipe calling for two eggs, half a cup of flour, four tons of beef, and a leek.
While this is a start, I am afraid I still have much work ahead.
Today I made a Black Forest cake out of five pounds of cherries and a live beaver,
challenging the very definition of the word cake. I was very pleased. Malraux
said he admired it greatly, but could not stay for dessert. Still, I feel that
this may be my most profound achievement yet, and have resolved to enter it in
the Betty Crocker Bake-Off.
Today was the day of the Bake-Off. Alas, things did not go as I had hoped. During
the judging, the beaver became agitated and bit Betty Crocker on the wrist. The
beaver's powerful jaws are capable of felling blue spruce in less than ten minutes
and proved, needless to say, more than a match for the tender limbs of America's
favorite homemaker. I only got third place. Moreover, I am now the subject of
a rather nasty lawsuit.
I have been gaining twenty-five pounds a week for two months, and I am now experiencing
light tides. It is stupid to be so fat. My pain and ultimate solitude are still
as authentic as they were when I was thin, but seem to impress girls far less.
From now on, I will live on cigarettes and black coffee.
Sorry, there is no exit
from this page.