Celeb chef Batali dabbled in performance art last week, reading from The Futurist Cookbook to the soundtrack of an avant-garde sextet. As the Chicago Reader notes in its review of the Chi-town event, one of the central tenets of the cookbook—an Italian revolutionary text written in the early 20th century—is (gasp!) a repudiation of pasta.

Molto Mario (who gave a similar performance five years ago in New York) “played his role with mock gravitas,” but the cookbook’s author, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, was dead serious about his antipasta stance. As Cabinet magazine explained a few years back:

[T]he Futurists were calling for the abolition of what they deemed an absurd Italian gastronomic religion. Marshalling the opinions of doctors, professors, hygienists, and impostors, Marinetti claimed that pasta induced lethargy, pessimism, nostalgia, and neutralism. In short, pasta stood behind everything the Futurists had been battling ever since the appearance of their initial manifesto in 1909.

What should good Futurists eat instead, then? “Candied atmospheric electricities” and “raw meat torn by trumpet blasts” are a couple of ideas. Other recipes are more tangible, if still inedible: “In one, you’re served a rectangle that has velvet on one side, sandpaper on the other and you spray perfume in [the] air,” says experimental New York chef Coleman Lee Foster, who was “awestruck” when he first picked up the book.

I’m all for free thinking in the kitchen, as long as Mario doesn’t go trading in his gnocchi for intuitive antipasto. Yech.

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