Re-issued on the 125th anniversary of Buckminster Fuller’s birth, the cookbook Synergetic Stew — Explorations in Dymaxion Dining was originally presented to Fuller as a gift on his 86th birthday, in 1982, by the staff of the Fuller Institute in Philadelphia. It’s not the sort of cookbook you’d buy — then or now — for the recipes, unless you’re desperate for dated instructions for shrimp salad or chocolate mousse. Synergetic Stew is instead a document of a magical, idiosyncratic life, dominated publicly by heady science but filled in equal measure with “light, wild things.”
The book’s contributors are a who’s who of 20th-century art and science, ranging from Ruth Asawa to Margaret Mead, all of whom share a love and fondness for “Bucky” that emanates from every page. In anecdotes, editorialized recipes, and poems (some written by Fuller himself), we learn of Fuller’s penchant for black tea, consumed “like bunker fuel around the clock at a level just below toxicity”; his long-lasting sobriety; and his proven weight loss strategy of eating almost exclusively steak, spinach, and Jello.
Fuller’s grandson, Jaime Snyder, rounds out the reissue with recollections of his childhood with Bucky, learning to eat sea urchin with Isamu Noguchi and foraging for chanterelles with John Cage. But he also brings the book back down to earth with an image of Fuller serving guests buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, perfectly capturing the complexity of a man for whom “nobody and nothing is ordinary.”
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