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Top Five Cookbooks For Classical Music Fans

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Appetites among certain composers and musicians are legendary, and dishes bearing their names—Tournedos Rossini, Chicken Tetrazzini, and Peach Melba, for example—are proof.

The association between music and food, hearing and eating, is a strong one, and a cookbooks have appealed to classical music and opera buffs who know their way around the kitchen, or are just curious what renowned musicians cook when not touring. Here are our five favorite cookbooks:

1. Encore: The Favorite Dishes of the World’s Most Famous Musicians

Encore The Favorite Dishes of the World’s Most Famous Musicians was compiled by the Women’s Association of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and published by Random House in 1958. With contributions from Licia Albanese (risotto and veal scaloppini) to George Szell (Filet of Sole as I Like It) as well as more than a dozen recipes by Antal Dorati, this collection provides a bit of insight into the diets and personalities of mid-century musical luminaries. The details about the latter are often more interesting than the dated recipes. For example, did you know that Robert Merrill farmed both strawberries and fruit trees on his New Rochelle property?

2. Opera Lover's Cookbook

Francine Segan's Opera Lover’s Cookbook takes inspiration from suites of operas and builds menus around a theme. A Mozartean dessert party includes Viennese pastries, a collection of tapas dishes is supposed to invoke works set within Spain (Carmen, Don Giovanni, and The Barber of Seville). Since Segan is a food historian with an impeccable culinary resume, her recipes require skills in the kitchen, but are more exciting than in Encore. A forward by Renée Fleming and wine recommendations from the baritone Gerald Finley give the book an insider feel.

3. Dining and the Opera in Manhattan

The restaurant and music scene in around Lincoln Center has changed enormously since Sharon O'Connor published her cookbook plus CD package, Dining and the Opera in Manhattan, just one collection in her menus and music series. Nostalgic New Yorkers can reminisce over dishes inspired by meals at Lutèce, San Domenico, La Côte Basque, or La Caravelle while listening to arias sung by Beverly Sills and Leontyne Price on the accompanying disk.

4. Cooking with Music: Celebrating the Tastes and Traditions of the Boston Symphony Orchestra

Not surprisingly, Cooking With Music: Celebrating the Tastes and Traditions of the Boston Symphony Orchestra emphasizes New England cuisine, with some more global dishes provided by figures such as then-director Seiji Ozawa (fish stew) and Isaac Stern (borsht). Perhaps the most alluring recipes are those intended for picnics, particularly summer evenings spent at Tanglewood, the BSO's summer home. And anecdotes of eating with the musicians are peppered throughout the pages.

5. The Ethnomusicologist's Cookbook

Noting that music and food are inseparable at celebrations and gatherings around the world, The Ethnomusicologist’s Cookbook, edited by Evergreen State College professor Sean Williams, provides insight into the connections between these fields, as well as other cultural traditions. Norwegian laks go along with the native hardanger fiddle, and authors recommend CDs and websites for additional listening. Though the emphasis here is on folk music, the texts provide interesting evaluations of how our senses are inextricably linked in our experience.

Below:  Jacques Pepin told us in 2011 about his five favorite pieces for the kitchen. Do you have a favorite cookbook that involves classical music? Tell us about it below in the comments box.