Monday, July 19, 2010
In his book The Dream Endures, Kevin Starr mentions a San Francisco chef called Tao Yuen who "had been trained before the Revolution at the Imperial School of Cookery in Peking where the textbook was the 753-volume, three-million-page Imperial Encyclopedia of National Cookery." I can't find any other reference to this entity, but there's something a bit Borgesian about a cookbook so demonically comprehensive that you'd starve to death long before you even got to the end of the marinades – "The Book of Sand" in particular comes to mind, plus, as ever, "The Library of Babel". Scattered through the Encyclopedia, presumably, are recipes that have not yet been read for dishes that have not yet been invented using ingredients that have not yet been discovered. Talking of Borges, it's good to see Christopher Nolan confirm in this interview that one inspiration for his breathtakingly enjoyable Inception was "The Secret Miracle", which I was reminded of often during the film.