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12 November 2009

Cage in the Kitchen

Anyone familiar with John Cage knows that late in life he became an avid macrobiotic cook. Some mourned the loss of his coq au vin and his creme brulee, reputed specialties from a decade before, but anyone lucky enough to experience just one of his impromptu macrobiotic lunches -- sans butter or flesh -- didn't complain for long!

The John Cage Trust takes the opportunities wherever they arise to spread his culinary gospel, so click here for a few words from Cage himself about the diet as well as a healthy sampling of his favorite recipes.

In 1997, at the 35th annual Belfast Festival at Queens, we were invited into the Festival House kitchen to prepare a macrobiotic feast for some 80 invited guests after a glorious performance of Ocean by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. On the menu were Cage's hummus, red beans and hijiki-spotted rice, an arame-shitake stirfry, and, of course, the celebrated "John Cage Cookies."

This was also the occasion of the first installation of Cage's Roaratorio: An Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake, carefully (re)constructed from original recordings by Klaus Schoening and John David Fulleman. The work was reprised this past month in a beautiful new version by Bob Bielecki (with an able assist from Tom Mark) in the Chapel of the Holy Innocents at the John Cage at Bard College Symposium.

More recently, February 20-23, 2009, in one of its semi-annual contributions to the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's residencies at Dia:Beacon, the John Cage Trust transformed its little cafe into a macrobiotic eatery.

Dia:Beacon's staff was encouraged to contribute recipes of their own, and their Maple Pecan Cookies actually replaced Cage's for months afterwards as the Cunningham household favorite.

And this month, Barcelona's Bar Seco -- purveyor of "ethically-friendly, Italian-Spanish vegetarian dishes and tapas" -- is including a number of Cage-inspired edibles on its menu to celebrate "The Anarchy of Silence," a significant exhibition devoted to Cage's life and work at the nearby Museu d'Art Contemporani (MACBA), curated by Julia Robinson. For more on this, see Alex Ross's excellent blog, "Cage in Barcelona".

And, to close, here's a really recent "find" -- an important (and sweetly vigorous) missive written (slyly) by Cage for his partner Merce. This was discovered nestled inside a very dusty file folder, tucked safely behind a small wooden desk in the bedroom of their shared Manhattan loft.

If this isn't love, I don't know what is.

Laura Kuhn