The Endangered Species Recipe Book: catalogue statement and discussion with Elizabeth Pilliod

The Endangered Species Recipe Book: catalogue statement and discussion with Elizabeth Pilliod

Elizabeth Demaray: I’m very excited to be talking to you in your professional capacity as an art historian. It seems to me that a key to our current moment is to look at the past, right?

Elizabeth Pilliod: I agree with you completely. One of my questions, as a historian, is that if this pandemic goes on for years, what are we going to lose from all of our universities?

That right there is a concern that comes from studying the medieval and Renaissance periods. One of the scariest aspects of the plagues in Europe is what we may have lost in terms of cultural production.

In terms of cultural history, this is one of the things that I find most challenging about our current moment.

I know. But I want to say something to you on a positive note. In this time of “great pause,” I am seeing a flourishing of creativity. People are responding to these novel conditions in creative ways. I am suddenly seeing all kinds of new models for cultural production. And I don’t just mean you and me having this conversation over Zoom, although this is part of it. I’m thinking about dancers on TikTok and isolated musicians playing together on streaming platforms. My students, who are sharing their sculpture projects online, are even considering their work from new vantage points. I feel like this moment is forcing us, or should I say allowing us, to create new systems.

It is, really.

We’re making art in real time for each other. And this unexpected flourishing is amazing. 

It is amazing. It could only happen at this moment, in this time period. That’s the one thing that you can’t go back in history and say, “Well, how did they Zoom in the 1330s?” Because you know, they didn’t. So, we have this one extra element that no other time has ever had. And so, I think it can be very creative. I believe that people like you and actors and actresses and dancers are really at the forefront of the creativity movement because…

… and art historians. This is a moment for anybody who pays attention to or values culture. That’s the truth. Also, there are so many decisions that we have to make right now and we have no basis on which to model our actions except for cultural history. That’s all we have. And we only have about six thousand years of history that’s actually been recorded to go on. We don’t have enough, right? So, people like you are valuable. We need to understand as much of our past as is possible. So, thank you for your service.  

My pleasure! So, what I was thinking is that I will ask you some questions about how you got to this project. I know a little bit about your background, but how is it that you began the Endangered Species Recipe Book 

The Endangered Species Recipe Book: Animals That Have Gone Extinct or Are Going Extinct and the Recipes That We Have Used to Eat Them is the full title. The project is a collaboration with the painter, and my partner, Hugo Bastidas. It is a taxonomy dedicated to the naturalist E. O. Wilson. Wilson believes that by the end of this century—in our lifetimes—we will lose half of all plants, animals, and birds on our planet if our current rate of ecological destruction continues. So the recipe book is a series of oil paintings on individual, unbound sheets of paper. Each painting depicts an extinct or endangered animal, along with the earliest known recipe that we humans may have used to cook the unfortunate creature. I started the project in 2012, but it was probably kicking around in my head for much longer. I’m interested in books as art objects. And I mean actual objects. I make sculptures out of books. I scrape the titles off of the spines and write in titles that I like better with ink pens. The Smart One Died, A Mother’s Tale, and Winning through Understatement are examples of rewritten titles. I also love coming up with book names in the space of natural history. In this vein, I’ve generated speculative overviews like Hills: Nature’s Own Assertions and also titles for very specific kinds of considerations, such as Early Signs of Absenteeism in the Slow Dogfish. Once I change the name of a book, I then create sculpture with it. I pile my renamed tomes in tall stacks, so that my viewers have to walk around these vertical libraries while attempting to read my poorly rendered handwriting. I call the entire process Good Book Titles. So, I’m interested in the image of the book as an object as well as the idea of a book as a concept. The Endangered Species Recipe Book artwork first began as a title on one of the book stacks.

I’ve also got a collection of actual recipe-type books that are kind of scary. I’ve got one from the last century for home taxidermists; it tells you what you need to gather to make items like “antlers on a plaque,” for instance. If you read the recipe lines slowly, it sounds like gory haiku. 

Nice! That’s something we have in common because I collect cookbooks also. Everywhere I travel, I buy cookbooks, sometimes in languages that I can’t comprehend, like Swedish. I try to use one every year for New Year’s Eve. I threw a complete Scandinavian party just using cookbooks from Sweden, Finland, and Norway. I also like historical cookbooks very much, as you know, which was one of the reasons why we thought we should have this conversation. 

Cookbooks are fascinating. They may exist in the space of folk art. They may preserve culture, but not necessarily be part of the mainstream. I mean, there are lots of different kinds of compendiums, but it is interesting that you can open up one of your Swedish cookbooks, for example, and there will be terms in each recipe that are really culturally specific or are specific to a time and place. The ingredients, the way that they’re measured, the way that they’re used—none of these factors may be clearly recorded in this context. Food is a living history. So even if we’re lucky enough to have an ingredients list, no one may have any idea how to make the intended food item. 

My hope is that the Endangered Species Recipe Book memorializes what happens when you read actual historic recipes and experience a state of recontextualization. This is, after all, one of the generative strategies that artists use to make art. We take something out of one context and then drop it into another context where it doesn’t belong. And when we juxtapose elements that don’t belong together, we can create something new, something potentially remarkable.

So, this artwork allows me to make a statement about the present versus the past. I think I may also be talking about how humans have not changed over time. These recontextualized recipes allow us to read the past into the present. I’m interested in how we can look at these texts and images in hindsight, from the vantage point of the Anthropocene. It’s an interesting way to consider how we humans have spent our time on the planet in the presence of our non-human companion species. 

Exactly! I’ve been toying with this idea. I noticed that you mentioned in a previous conversation that you used an ancient Roman cookbook and that one of the Recipe Book illustrations and recipes comes from that. 

ED: Yes. There are multiple Roman recipes in the Species collection. We staged an exhibition of the artwork at Zagreus Projekt in Berlin. Zagreus is an amazing place. It may be the only art center in the world that is dedicated to marrying fine and culinary art. We had an exhibition and the Zagreus food staff created a month-long dinner menu that featured animals that went extinct during the Roman period. Apparently, many species in that region were eaten to extinction during the Roman occupation of Gaul. Much to our benefit, Ulrich Krauss, the director at Zagreus, was trained as a performance artist and also as a butcher. With his help, Hugo and I enlarged the Recipe Book works on paper to feature German animals. These species are accompanied by their historic recipes from this region of Germany. We created newly painted pages for the aurochs, the hooting, the wild boar, and the dormouse over the course of the exhibition.

The hooting is now featured in the Endangered Recipe Series with an old German recipe via Ulrich from Das Brandenburgische Kochbuch, which was published in 1723. According to Ulrich, many of these recipes remained unchanged since the Middle Ages. The hooting is from the salmon family and was very popular. At first it was very cheap for poor people to eat. At the time of the 1723 cookbook, the fish had become expensive and was only affordable for the upper classes. There were only a few places left where people could still fish for it, especially in the Elbe (which is close to Berlin). In Old  German, the recipe reads: Schuppet ihn und leget ihnen einen Kessel, gebet ein wenig, Wasser und ein wenig Wein dazu, auch grob gestossenen Pfeffer und Muskaten-Blumen, gerieben Brodt und Salz / laß es zusammen sieden: wenn es gahr, so thut Butter darzu, und laßt es einmal, durchsieden.” This translates as: To cook a salmon, scale the salmon and put it in a bowl, add water and wine, pepper and nutmeg (mace), breadcrumbs and butter and let it cook for a little while.”

For our menu, the staff found a fish substitute that was as close as possible to hooting. They also sourced entire animals from local organic farmers. They also used historically accurate techniques to dress and prepare the meat. I used to be vegan, and being American, these techniques are far removed from how I’m used to interacting with meat. So, the actual food preparation at Zagreus was a new experience for me.

They re-created the Auk Egg in Brown Butter recipe from the Species Book auk painting. Auks used to be prized for producing giant eggs. The Zagreus staff constructed an egg the size of a cantaloupe by using a Roman technique of sewing fish bladders together. They basically created a giant fish-bladder mold. This allowed them to gang[CV3]  multiple egg whites around a collection of egg yolks in the center. Using this enlarged bladder, they created a perfectly round white ball. When Krauss cut into the ball at the beginning of each of the dinners, a beautiful egg yolk sauce would pour out from the center. The egg ball did smell a bit of uric acid, but overall, this course of the meal was just magical.

The grouped bladder technique came from the Romans. As you know, we have a fairly clear picture of their food. The great thing about Roman recipes is that you can find a variant of one recipe in Georgia and another variant of the same dish in Ireland, so you can compare them and identify the mother recipe. We also have a good idea of what was considered appropriate food items for the masses because the Roman army was rapacious. And any time you have an army, a big body of people that you have to feed, I suspect that one thinks about the landscape and resources in a different way.

That sounds like an engaging meal. What else did you serve? 

For the wild boar, we went with a recipe for a pig sausage with liver. That was actually used in “Accumulation,” Ulrich’s first course of the formal dinner. In German, the 1723 recipe reads: Leber Würste, Man muss die Leber, ehe sie gekocht, fein hacken, und alle Adern hears machen, darzu thun Pfeffer, Nägelchen, etwas gestossen Salz, in Milch geweichtes Weisbrodt, feine geschnittene Stücken Fett von den Flaumen, und es in die Därme thun, aber nur halb voll, und sie gahr kochen.” In English, it reads: “Liver sausages. The liver has to be chopped finely before cooking, add pepper, cloves, some salt, in milk, soaked white bread and finely chopped pork belly fat, fill it in the guts, but only half and cook them.”

For the aurochs and the dormouse, we went with the primary Roman recipes. The aurochs was memorialized in an old recipe for gelatin. Originally a savory dish, gelatin was used to preserve food such as fish. Variants of this can still be seen in recipes for things like gefilte fish. The Roman recipe goes: “2 1/4 pound beef shin with bone (have the butcher crack it), 1 pig’s foot, cut in small chunks, 1 veal knuckle, 1 onion stuck with 2 cloves, 2 carrots, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 stalk celery, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 cup sherry or Madeira, 2 egg whites, lightly beaten (if necessary). Place all ingredients except the egg whites in a pan. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add 3 pints water. Bring to the boiling point, cover and simmer for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours at the lowest possible heat. The liquid should just ripple. Pour the stock into a bowl and cool. Chill overnight. Skim off all fat. If the jelly is not clear, bring it to a boil again and add the egg whites. Boil gently for 10 minutes and strain clarified liquid through a cloth.”

As you’re describing this dinner, I’ve also been thinking about the global aspect of the ancient Roman Empire, which stretched all across Europe, reaching into India. They were accessing new ingredients and new utensils and new modes of cooking, and then making new dishes which, in turn, would have an impact on the culture when they came back. That part of the story is extremely interesting as part of the first global wave. We tend to think of globalism as something that’s happening now, but it’s been happening from the beginning, right? It’s always been there. So I thought that this part of the Species recipes is very interesting. I’m also wondering if you have heard of the book Fabulous Feasts.

No. What is it?

The title is Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony. It’s by Madeleine Pelner Cosman. It’s a superb source for historic recipes. In the text she makes a comment about the medieval feast in which she says, “The more sophisticated city food merchants easily will produce cow, pig, deer, rabbit, goose, chicken, lobster, and eel. Less eagerly will they find more exotic things like pheasants and shellfish, but they would be jailed”—and this is for you—“and rightly if they produced animals gracing your medieval cookbook, which are now endangered species. Their names and detailed recipes for the preparation attest to the incredible variety of animal foods that were available to the noble medieval palate.” I was immediately attracted to the sentence because she is pointing to maybe not extinct but lots of endangered species. 

It’s impressive that they had that conception of the natural world. They had that understanding of natural ecosystems. Later on, during the “Age of Reason,” that concept may have given way to the idea of specimen collection. 

And then she has a list that goes on and on, which might actually be a helpful addition because my work, of course, concentrates on the Renaissance and I’ve been working a long time on the diary of the artist Pontormo, where he talks about what he eats. So, I’ve investigated those foods and like you, that led me to sixteenth-century cookbooks and then issues like, “What implements are they using? What are the utensils here? How are they making this?” So I completely share that fascination and have a few bits of bibliography. But I want to hear more about how the project actually looks.

Well, we typically show the works ganged and hung vertically on a wall. I would, however, like to construct big flat files for the individual leaves. The work is also growing. Everywhere I travel, I ask people, “Hey, what did your oldest relatives eat that’s no longer around?” I’m really interested in that first level of history, when there are still people around who can remember these foods. I’m also interested in the earliest animals that died off in that specific area. In Australia, I was given a recipe for a type of wallaby that no longer exists, along with a recipe for wallaby stew. In China, I was given a recipe for the Yangtze river dolphin. When I did some research, I found out that this animal was venerated as a god, so it surprised me that they would eat it. So this is a living work. It continues to grow. It’s also inspiring me to complete other cookbook-type projects. 

Really? Like what?

There is an older project that I’ve been working on in my head for some time called Cookbook for When the Sun Goes Out. Climatologists think that if the earth gets warm enough, our major areas that sequester carbon, which are the rainforests, are going to dry up and burn. And if they burn, we’re going to go into the next Dark Ages. It’s going to blacken out the sky. As an artist, I’m interested in the way that humor can counter sadness. So I thought, “Okay, where is the humor in this? How can I get people to pay attention to this dark subject?” Well, the humor for me is that if there’s no sun, we’re going to have to figure out alternative food sources. So what might these food sources be? There are lots of things like fungi and lichen that don’t have to use the sun. These life forms can use radiation in the same way that plants use light to create chemical energy. Then, of course, you’ve got the vents at the bottom of the ocean that are making heat. So, there’s probably lots of things you can use besides sunlight, besides photosynthesis, to create chemical energy. 

This speculative work actually started me on the Species Book. I started thinking about all the things that we humans have depleted and I realized that charismatic species are animals that we have some record of. You can go back and look at early cave paintings. I mean, they weren’t painting teeny shrews. They were painting beautiful bison, big charismatic animals that we have really admired. It seemed appropriate to me that we should memorialize these animals.

How did you decide to make the work using oil paint on paper? The images are beautiful, but it’s an unusual choice of medium.

The very first image that I started with was an extraordinary woodcut of a dodo bird. The page even had a recipe on it for the animal. I think it was a Spanish recipe or maybe Latin, for dodo birds cooked in wine. One day, back in 2013, this historic image was propped up on my studio table. I was looking at it and contemplating how I was going to translate this image into my “book” project when Hugo, who’s an oil painter, walked through my studio and said, “Wow, that’s a great image. Would you mind if I painted it?” 

We had never collaborated on anything before this, but Hugo paints using a monochromatic palette, which seemed appropriate for the project. Also, he is an extraordinary artist. His oil painting is a bit like drawing because he pushes the paint around like it is charcoal. He painted the dodo bird on paper, and it was gorgeous. So, I invited him to work on the project with me. Suffice it to say, he’s been making me paint and it’s torturous. I took some calligraphy classes a long time ago—typography and calligraphy. It’s kind of like that, like you’re trying to paint with ink.  

I was going to say that the kinds of illustrations you’re making—large format, extremely detailed—typically, they would be engraved as a woodcut because that was the technology of the moment. So, they were monochrome and like your images, they contained great amounts of detail. They’d illustrate an animal, sometimes the various parts of the animal, to show the most specific characteristics. If, for example, the way its whiskers grew was something that distinguished it from another animal, you might see a head-on view and a profile view of the head on the same page that showed multiple views of the whiskers. The images would showcase the information that was necessary for cataloging it as accurately as possible. And then the text would tend to be sort of free-floating, but given the exigencies of printing, they had to keep it in a block at the bottom. That’s why there would be a certain blocky look to the text, because of the physical way the type was set. But when you were describing the project to me, it immediately made me think of these texts that were based on ancient manuscripts. These texts existed partially or did not exist at all but had been transcribed maybe only in pieces and typically without the imagery, but just as words. This happened throughout the Middle Ages in various scriptoria in Europe, but also in the East—the part of the world that we now consider to be the Middle East and the lands where Islam was essentially the driving force. 

It’s so interesting. I’ve been looking at the way wood-cut text is laid out. I love the way that they kern letters to fill the space as evenly as possible.

And these texts from the Middle East traveled. After the last big bout of the bubonic plague was, sort of, over, and Europe rebounded around 1400 in terms of population, transportation, and agriculture, they started trading again. Europeans started going up and down the rivers and they reopened access to the Silk Roads. Then people traded or got wind of some of these manuscripts and asked if they could make copies of them, purchase them, and so a body of material that had been lost for a thousand years came back. 

So, there’s a big explosion in the sixteenth century of publications on plants and animals of the sort that had existed in antiquity and that would be connected to the recipes you have been working with. And Renaissance people were fascinated by exotica. There are very famous images—I’ll just give you one as an example. This will make this process immediately clear. It’s the rhinoceros. There’s a hugely famous woodcut that everybody copied of a rhinoceros and it comes from one of these books. They don’t have any rhinoceri in France or Italy. And so painters would sometimes lift images out of these books and insert animals like rhinoceri into paintings in the background kind of skirt, and, of course, they can’t possibly be there, right? 

I would love to see these paintings. It’s sort of like an early version of Photoshop. The Species Book also has a rhinoceros. You bring up a great point though about illustration. Surprisingly enough, making aesthetic choices about images is actually something that we’ve been trying to avoid. So, I’ve been using a generative process. I try to find the earliest known photo of the animal. If one of our species went extinct before the advent of photography, I try to find the earliest print or drawing of the animal. Sometimes these images are quite general. Trying to track down drawings of extinct animals is a wondrous process, though. Sometimes I find images that appear to have been reconstructed from verbal descriptions and sometimes they look downright fantastical. I’m thinking of the illustrations of Steller’s sea cow here. The early drawings were too fanciful to include in the Species Book. I ended up using one of these illustrations at a performance to commemorate the Remembrance Day for Lost Species at the American Museum of Natural History this year. The story and image of the animal was just too compelling not to share in some way.

Well, I think that you would really enjoy reading medieval period texts. My own work is on the diary of Pontormo. The precise years he’s writing are 1554 to 1557. Pontormo is an artist who people in the modern period have said must be slightly crazy. 

Slightly crazy? Why?

Well, it’s a combination—I can’t give you the exact items off the top of my head because I hadn’t thought that we would go down this path. But artists, of course, are all melancholics according to the wisdom of this period. The reason they are is because melancholia, which is a damp and cold humor, automatically predisposes you to be more open to divine inspiration. It’s like the communications channel is open and what you have to do is to control it a little bit or you’ll go nuts. Because if you go too far, you go off the deep end. 

As an artist, I would completely agree with that assessment. Creativity exists in a sweet spot between sanity and craziness. 

There’s that place, that little place. All of this actually sounds so normal, the way you and I are talking about it.  

But what did he eat? I mean, two things occurred to me. One is he was probably an obsessive. As soon as you said melancholy, there’s an obsessive component to that. And two, what specifically was he eating for inspiration? I’m going to guess it was warm things. If you’re damp and you’re cold, you want to eat warm things.

Right, sort of. He actually ate quite a few cold, wet things, which means he’s trying to make himself more melancholic, right? Because he doesn’t want to lose that incredible sensitivity. And this is part of what being a melancholic provides. It’s a danger, as we can well imagine, that you’re too sensitive, but you’ve got to keep open. So, for instance, one might eat silly things like lettuce and cabbage because they’re cold and wet.  

So this is a cookbook for creativity from a medieval perspective. Right? 


Wow. How was Pontormo selecting foods?

Well, to keep track, you know, you sort of keep a running tab and then you can go back and look at it by date and say, “So, that was a good weekend. I’ll do that again.”

“I ate a bunch of cabbage and I made this painting.” I should try that. 

I’m also really interested in the business of extinction. Poking around a tiny bit and looking at these lists of foods that are in these medieval sources, the incredible range of fishes, for instance, at banquets apparently, there are records of these things being served. And definitely some of these are certainly endangered. And they ate surprising things. To my amazement, they ate porpoise. I did not know this.  

Well, yeah, we’re still eating porpoise. 

We still are? Oh, dear.  

It’s because of tuna. One of the issues with tuna fishing is that porpoises get stuck in the tuna nets. I forget what the percentage is when you buy a can of tuna, but the amount of porpoise is significant. 

That’s horrific.  

Yeah. It is surprising what we’re able to eat to extinction. Did you know that passenger pigeons used to block out the sunlight on the plains in the United States? I’ve read first-person accounts from people who couldn’t see the sun when a big flock of passenger pigeons crossed the sky. Now, there’s not a single one left. None. Gone. I mean, these are the animals that we have a recorded history of. Imagine all the animals that we don’t have records of.  

Right. We also don’t understand the larger impact of our actions. I was reading about scientists who have been tracking a shark that is now almost extinct. Part of the reason is that it’s only native to a body of water off the coast of California. This makes me realize that one of the advantages we have, and also one of the reasons we don’t have an excuse for eating anything else into extinction, is that we have the media and technology to tell us about animals and fishes and plants all over the world. 

As you know, I’m an advisor in the Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which is a platform for the creative use of machine learning and computer vision. This technology is having an effect on our conception of the natural world in really interesting ways. We now have the physical computing capabilities to make devices that can sense in the middle of remote jungles. We can, for example, record all the audio that’s going on and extrapolate how deep the ecosystem is in that place. Up until our current moment, a biologist would have had to carefully listen to every tape. They would have to listen to every bird call in real time. What we can learn about the world right now through these technologies is extraordinary. The pandemic is also interesting from this perspective because this kind of physical computing allows us to sense and “see” at a distance. 

In terms of media, I also think it’s a significant moment in trans-species understanding because wide audiences are able to learn about animal behavior from platforms like YouTube. If you want to see something extraordinary, check out a video of Koko, the gorilla at Stanford who has learned sign language. There is a segment available online where Koko watches a sad movie about friends who part at a train station. In the video, she turns away from the sad part where people are having to leave their loved ones. She looks like she is crying. She signs “Frown, sad, cry, bad….” The segment is stunning. And the ability to see this kind of behavior up close is changing the way we humans think about sentience in our companion species.

Yes. Thank goodness there aren’t any gorillas in the Species Book! So, we have these technologies now, but my poor research subjects in the sixteenth century, the best they could have was maybe a guidebook to Jerusalem. That’s all they had. Did they have a book that told them anything about the flora and fauna of the Americas? No, they had nothing. So they couldn’t realize that, “Oh my gosh, there is an animal that is only in this little place.”

Well, they also had a different conception of conception, right? They believed that God brought everything into being and that we, at least in the Western model, have “dominion over all things.” This creates the groundwork for our modern extraction economy. With this mindset, we continue to extract and believe that nature or what we sometimes refer to as our “natural resources” are here to be consumed. The other problem is that we actually know very little about the life forms that share our space.

This discussion of consumption and knowledge brings me to the Species Book page for the Galapagos Island tortoise. Could you tell me about the history of this animal? 

I’m so glad that you asked. That tortoise did not get its own species name for three hundred years after it was discovered on the Galapagos Islands. Apparently, it was very tasty to eat. It was so delicious that the poor tortoise kept being eaten while onboard ships, before it made it back to Europe. Rumor has it that Charles Darwin helped eat the last specimen that was on board with him on his trip back to England.

This brings me back to your work on Pontormo. What else did he eat? 

Well, he eats very little meat, I have to say. I can tell you, though, that he ate eels. And they were eels from right there in the local river. And there are no eels in Florence today. So, that’s a good example of a food source that’s no longer available.

So, eels from Florence. And do you know the specific species?  

I don’t, but I could probably find out. It would take me some digging, but I think that it could be found out. Most people just ignore it, you know, and gloss over and go, “Eww, eel.” 

In Europe, eels were one of the few things that common people could eat after the rivers got really polluted because eels can live in serious pollution. So, you see businesses like eel shops. It was a big business in London, right along the Thames. There used to be rows of eel shops that would serve things like eel pie. These establishments were for the common people. Once the populace has eaten all of the naturally occurring animals from around cities, eels are one of the few things that you would still find in urban rivers. So, this is interesting. What your artist eats tells us about the ecology of the place where he lives.  

And it also is the case that he is not eating like the rich and privileged. Mostly, he is not eating these feasts that have multiple fish courses and meat courses, but in fact, he’s eating mostly vegetables and eggs, because eggs were easy to get. They were relatively high in nutrients and so forth and they were considered to be a perfect food in medieval times. 

It occurs to me that we don’t have an eel recipe in the Species Book. I think you may have actually inspired a couple of pages of this project. 

Well, in that case, it’s been my pleasure!

Endangered Species Recipe Book part 2

For the past decade Ulrich Krauss has curated projects that aim to bring fine and culinary art together. He will be installing and interpreting The Endangered Species Recipe Book, a work by Hugo Bastidas and I at Zagreus Project (image of art/food exhibition above) this June. This work is dedicated to the naturalist E.O. Wilson who believes that by the end of this century—in our lifetimes, we will lose half of all plants, animals and birds on our planet, if our current rate of ecological destruction continues. The Endangered Species Recipe Book isn’t actually a book. It is a series of oil paintings on paper. Each painting depicts an extinct or endangered animal, along the earliest known, or commonly prepared, recipe that us humans may have used to cook the unfortunate creature. Below is part two of a sampling of full recipes (mostly in English) along with each recipes “page” or painting in the exhibition. Bon appetit! Eliz

The Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa)
The Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa)

The Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa) from

Cómo hacer sopa de Tortuga

Una tortuga sana de 4 a 6 libras (1,81 a 2,76 Kg), con su caparazón

Olla grande con tapa



Instrucciones, Preparar la tortuga

Corta la cabeza de la tortuga con solo un golpe rápido, si estás utilizando una tortuga viva. Inmediatamente coloca la cabeza y el cuerpo de la tortuga en un recipiente con agua muy fría.

Cuando el sangrado se haya detenido, cambia el agua y frota bien el caparazón y la carne con un cepillo, luego coloca rápidamente la cabeza y el cuerpo en un recipiente con agua sin sal que esté hirviendo. Continúa la ebullición hasta que la piel de la cabeza y las patas se vuelvan blancas.

Cocina la tortuga en agua sin sal hasta que la sientas suave al hacerle presión con los dedos. Esto no debería tomar más de tres cuartos de hora.

Una vez cocida hasta el punto deseado, coloca la tortuga a un lado para que se enfríe. Corta la parte baja del caparazón que está suelta del caparazón superior y retira con cuidado la carne. Separa las patas del cuerpo y córtalas en trozos pequeños y déjalos a un lado. Vacía el caparazón superior y desecha la vesícula biliar. También desecha el saco de arena, el corazón, la cola y los intestinos, así como los músculos blancos del interior.

Retira y deja a un lado los huevos, si la tortuga es hembra, y déjala a un lado con las patas y el hígado. Espolvorea estas partes de inmediato con sal y pimienta negra gruesa, colócalas en una caldera con la carne de la tortuga y cúbrelas con agua fría con sal, unas rodajas de zanahoria y cebolla, una hoja de laurel y dos clavos de olor levemente magullados.

Pon a hervir el agua y colócale la tapa. Muévela a un horno para cocinarla a 350 grados, cubierta aún con la tapa, y déjala cocinar por aproximadamente 20 a 30 minutos más.

Refrigera la tortuga cocida si no vas a usarla inmediatamente.

The Pyrenean ibex (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica)
Portuguese ibex (Capra pyrenaica lusitanica)

Portuguese ibex  (Capra pyrenaica lusitanica) from

3 kg de carne de cabra ou de carneiro; 150g de toucinho; 1dl de azeite; 1 colher de sopa de banha; 1 cebola; 5 dentes de alho; 2 colheres de chá de pimenta; 1 colher de chá de colorau; 1 ramo de salsa; ½ folha de louro; sal; noz-moscada; 1 a 1,5 litros de vinho tinto da Bairrada. 
Corta-se a carne em bocados, que se colocam num tacho preto de barro de Molelos. Juntam-se todos os ingredientes citados, à excepção do vinho, que apenas deve ser o suficiente para cobrir a carne. Como norma, tendo forno de pão, aquece-se este como se fosse para fazer broa de milho, isto é, bastante forte.Introduz-se a caçoila tapada e “esquece-se” até o forno esfriar, o que leva entre 4 a 5 horas. A meio deste tempo, convém verificar se é necessário adicionar mais vinho. Não se dispondo de um forno de pão, coze-se a chanfana no fogão, que deverá ser aquecida até ao máximo da sua potência meia hora antes de se introduzir o preparado. Antes de comer aquece-se bem a chanfana e serve-se na caçoila em que cozeu, com batatas cozidas em água e sal à parte.

Spix's macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii)
Spix’s macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii)

Spix’s macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) this recipe is a common red curry recipe for fowl. 

1/4 cup broth 1 teaspoon red curry paste 1 small yellow squash 1/2 cup coconut milk 4 skinless boneless breast halves 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips 4 teaspoons cilantro 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 lime.

Spotted green pigeon (Caloenas maculata), also known as the Liverpool pigeon
Spotted green pigeon (Caloenas maculata), also known as the Liverpool pigeon

Spotted green pigeon (Caloenas maculata), also known as the Liverpool pigeon from

Pigeon Paté with Orange

4 pigeon breasts

375 g pork sausage meat

125g streaky bacon

1 orange grated rind and juice

pinch dried thyme

1 bay leaf

2 tbspn brandy

2 cloves garlic

½ tspn ground nutmeg

2 shallots finely diced

1 egg

Slice the breasts into fingers and leave to marinade in orange juice, rind, brandy and garlic. Preheat oven to gas 3,160C, 325F. Chop bacon into thin strips and add to pork sausage meat with shallot, nutmeg, thyme,egg and seasoning. Mix together thoroughly. Grease a 500g loaf tin and put a layer of pork mixture into it; then a layer of pigeon fingers, continue making alternate layers finishing with a layer of pork. Put the bay leaf on top and cover tightly with foil. Stand the tin in a baking dish and surround with boiling water; bake for 1”4 hours. Leave to cool with a weights on top of it. Do not turn out of tin until 24 hours later.

Published by demaray

I kinit sweaters for plants, I culture lichen on the sides of skyscrapers in New York City and I manufacture alternative forms of housing for hermit crabs, out of plastic. With the engineer Dr. Qingze Zou, I am currently creating the IndaPlant Project: An Act of Trans-Species Giving in which I am building light-sencing robotic supports for housplants. These moving floraborgs allow potted-plants to roam freely in a domestic environment, in search of sunlight and water.

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