The Neo-Decadent Cookbook


Edited by Brendan Connell & Justin Isis

My previous reviews of this publisher:

Work by Brendan Connell, Justin Isis, Ross Scott-Buccleuch, David Rix, Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze, Jason Rolfe, Daniel Corrick, Colby Smith, Jessica Sequeira, Quentin S. Crisp, Damian Murphy, Douglas Thompson, Ursula Pflug, Lawrence Burton.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

36 thoughts on “The Neo-Decadent Cookbook

    by Brendan Connell and Justin Isis


    To wake WITHIN a dream is the co-vivid dream itself that we all seem to be experiencing during 2020, and I wonder whether food, as described here, is the neo-decadent SYMBOL for such real-unreal, disturbing, potentially healing dreams, a Jungian ark (see my review here earlier today)? A possible example is Rishi’s recent eat-out-to-help period in the UK bolstering such a phenomenon.
    Are there other examples of this worldwide “IN THE LAPS OF IMPROVISED GODS”?

    My other reviews of Brendan Connell: and Justin Isis:

  2. THE BIAS OF AFFINITY by Ross Scott-Buccleuch

    “Release the repast from the confines of the recipe!”

    This fine modernistic poem deals, inter alios, with ‘vagus villainy’ — a danger to digestion as well as to the heart, I believe. This poem also happens to be in mutual synergy with the food fantasies of ‘famished’ by anna vaught that, miraculously, I have somehow already been real-time reviewing here. I would not be surprised if there were not more mutual synergies to come between this cookbook and ‘famished’.


    A delightful Rixian gem of a Sculpture garden in the middle of East London in an oasis between the concrete buildings, with elephant statues, and two people who share it and look after it as well as concocting liqueurs from herbs to imbibe on board the equally creatively painted Narrow Canal Boats, one called Eibonvale.
    Delightful till the Despoilers came.
    As an aside, I have always been convinced that the name Eibonvale derives from Lovecraft. But did I dream that? A google quest just now produced nothing. (Lovecraft would potentially have been another good name for at least one of this story’s particular Narrow Boats).

    My previous reviews of this author:

  4. THE MUSHROOM OMELETTE by Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze

    “I usually make this omelette for one or two carefully handpicked guests.”

    An enticing recipe, as story, with, inter alios, peacock eggs. If you enjoy such comestibles of high literature, especially with a twist in their tail, then you will also love those of anna vaught here (particularly, but not exclusively, my review of ‘cucumber sandwiches’ about an hour ago before reading this ‘mushroom omelette’), the vaught book being one that I already happened, by miraculous coincidence, to be real-time reviewing alongside this neo-decadent cookbook!

  5. THE DEVIL’S ALCHEMIST by Jason Rolfe

    “—a scratch that cuts across two otherwise unrelated tracks.”

    A sporadically magick-insidious wordage steeped into yeasty woodage or barrelage for brewing mead, while fermenting ingredients from Sartrean philosophy and the financial survival trials of family life, along with one’s genealogical roots, and with favourite scratchy blues records summoning suspicions of one blues singer poisoning the other as masked by the sapor of such mead, rather than by that of whiskey. Put your nose near this texture of text and it is thus ripe with more than just meaning, I am sure.

  6. KOLIVA by Daniel Corrick

    I needed to quote all that; the highly textured story seemed to make me do so, and I mean that as a compliment, although a flavour spoiler in a review can be as bad as that in a plot’s recipe of ingredients. Despite this unsweet tooth underpinning Constantin’s general sapience of sapor, he mourned on the death anniversaries of his lovers — who had passed through his hands — with the ingested sweetness of Koliva … one of these lovers being named Honey, resonating with rhe masking of poison by the brewed sweetness of Honeyboy in the previous story.
    Constantin’s other lovers? First, there was Wheat, an aging priest. His other lovers, with the ingredients of all genders, were named Almond, Raisin, Anise, Parsley, Pepper, Cinnamon, Chickpea, all being their real names … and a tragic labourer that he named Pomegranate…
    I won’t spoil the ending. Nor the sapor of its meaning.

    My previous reviews of this author:

  7. HOUSEHOLD HINTS by Brendan Connell

    Three quotes from this substantive poem somehow remind readers of the previous two stories…

    “manner of Abyssinian priests.”

    “Honey can ritualistically be rubbed over the”

    “Pepper is revolting”

    There is a strong transgressive counterintuitiveness to this poem of food hints for your dinner guests, many lines of which will definitely stick in your mind without ever being able to pass through into forgetting’s void of evacuation.

  8. My closing thought above about the previous work now seems ironically to lead to….

    COOKING AUSTRALIA by Colby Smith

    “Human waste contains grains of memories from the realm of dreams.”

    I loved these often absurdist and/or apparently reality-based ideas regarding the historical paradoxes of solipsistic Australia and its cities … and its gulls. (NB: the gulls are left uncooked.)

    My reviews of this author:

  9. HEAVENLY VICTUALS by Jessica Sequeira

    “‘Release me from this syrupy hell,’ he requested.”

    A fine theme and variations on how I now infer the Koliva syndrome as sweetness versus saltiness, and of aromatic sapor and savor in the inadvertently parallel famished of vaught. Here a character called Melwyn (subject to the Lofty One) lusts after salt amid a heavenly banquet of sweetness. Whether or not a dream, indeed a co-vivid one, it is ironic that this evocative work strongly conjures up tastes (and maybe aromas, too) when today many have lost or are losing these two senses!

  10. THE VERTICAL TABLE by Justin Isis

    “, waiting like lampreys to attach their monitor mouths to our postprandial weakness.”

    A genuine classic of a surprisingly feasible idea or conceit, one that is transposed into a strikingly couched fantasy. The idea that a normal horizontal dining-table is one that lends itself to the generalised lethargy or effeteness of foodstuffs and their consumption by us. While a vertical table, with levels of spiked provender awakens more than just taste buds, awakens our spirits. This amazing proposition is well-argued as well as hedonistic with words about such a proposition. Needs to be read, as I would need to quote the whole work to do justice to it! Meanwhile, I do think ‘gestalt real-time reviewing’ of fiction is the vertical table when compared to the horizontal table of more common methods of reviewing it.

    “The system of the meal will stand revealed with all its subtle interconnections”.


    “The only thing to remember is never ever to eat them alive. They can sucker on and continue their lives quite well inside you.”

    More deep-pang cooking, after Lauren and the narrator moor their canal boats alongside each other again, today near their hidden garden among otherwise East London brickery and bullet trains. The recipes are both disarming and involving. A work where this author’s endearing Lessing-type-Good-Terrorist community of courteous mutual help with others, a survival ethos that is described and felt idyllically as well as with dark undertows of things these characters might need to face…

    by Quentin S. Crisp

    “What most concerns me, when I see someone, with utter complacency, peel a banana in a lecture hall or on the Tube, is the lack of shame.”

    A thoughtful confession upon what lies behind the narrator’s antipathy for most fruit. I can empathise but not fully share. It is another work that needs to be read. It has life-changing potential, even without fully sharing the inner psychology here. As perhaps now relevant to some of this work, before reading this, I had been told that some people have begun to be tantalised by sight of a face with a face mask on these days as if by the potential peeling off of sexy shapewear.

    My previous reviews of this author:


    “; cassette reels clicked and a monocle shattered, showering a leather mask with tiny shards of glass. Somehow the images refused to coalesce into a comprehensive narrative.”

    ….except somehow it does coalesce, in the archetypal Damian Murphy way, I guess. A ritual pattern of sacred clues into some gestalt of “eroto-comatose lucidity”, a phenomenon so common nowadays with some people’s reported co-vivid dreams, but always present over previous years in Damian Murphy’s texts of instruction disguised as fiction. Here the recipes to such a conspiratorial menu involves a gradually evolving pickled egg, an Earth-deep Automat, tunnels and corridors, windows as spy-lenses, and two women in auto-reported and/or self-reported rapprochement…

    My previous reviews of this author:

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    REVOLT OF THE KITCHENS by Jessica Sequeira

    “, stabbed forks into expensively perched salads,”

    A possibly confused map of the passages and tunnels of Hell’s and Heaven’s respective kitchens by an oldster who is really in a combined limbo not in a kitchen for either Hell or Heaven, as controlled by the aforementioned Lofty One, and we learn of the shenanigans involving these kitchens’ politics and escape clauses. The old crew of chefs and poets taught to focus on working therein are also subject to subterfuges and being swept off their feet by beautiful women in blue silk headscarves (once used as teasing face masks or burqas?) …an intriguing tale that equally feints to sweep my own old age away as well as lingering on as something perhaps even more meaningful — even as I speak.

  15. THE WILD HUNT by Douglas Thompson

    “The old die that the young might live.”

    A plague upon the plague that must have come after this powerful work was written, a cure for society’s social care crisis, by killing off people like me! The Wild Hunt, not only an answer to the work’s refrain of an opening question about the recipe for woman and for man, but also a Blakean visionary antidote to that very plague, tapping the plague’s powers as the Hunt’s own — through the explicit help of many legendary literary and historical and mythic forces, including what is said in the long permanent footer of this very webpage … of the Wordhunger Worm of Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing!

    “Swallow that worm that eats its own tail, ouroboros, like the Gods on us, we feed upon ourselves, man and woman, complete the perfect circle, of day and night, of life and death, satiety and hunger.”

    My previous reviews of this author:


    “The man and woman knew that gold and platinum were not supposed to rust, but it seemed to them that if the light could fade, anything was possible.”

    A most poignant account — ironically after the previous story started off asking ‘What is the recipe for woman and for man?’ — of a man and woman as part and parcel of an island they were tasked to caretake, where its intrinsic “mineral decay” stretched to their own gold and silver. The dying of the sun and their threatened (or promised) subsumption by the sea — (“At the approach of midsummer the man and woman set out for the beach.”) — seems, at the time of reading it, couched by a miracle of writing. An essence of rust all round you and from within you that you will find to be in keeping with what I infer your mood to be these days … beyond any ventilator or any shield. At the approach of a seasonless Midsommar…

  17. I reviewed the next story as follows a week or so ago, in its then context, here:

    SEEDS by Ursula Pflug

    “I have planted sunflowers in the yard. Their big heads turn, slowly, throughout the day.”

    Till one of this highly poetic vignette’s children grows quickly like a sunflower into the man whom she earlier expected to walk over the hill to their enclave or lockdown bubble, she older than the rest but soon herself able to rest. As light and stars co-percolate. At least their chickens were from parthenogenesis, but not bred without heads. A story powered by a windmill on its roof — without turning, even slowly, to north, south, west or east. And any question mark would have been superfluous.:-
    “Why we are here and not somewhere else.”


    My previous reviews of this author:

  18. THE NIGHT DRINKERS by Jason Rolfe

    “While Morning-Drinkers follow a more measurable clock, time, to Night-Drinkers, floats variably between the grinding, the brewing, and the pouring of their coffee.”

    They keep on coming! Another classic, this of literary and philosophical percolation of the unique savor and sapor in the terroirs of various coffees, so utterly convincing, I could even wake up and smell the coffee…Perhaps for the first time, alerting me to something otherwise indefinably intrinsic to the nature of existence, from Socrates to his name’s nearly embedded Sartre. Unforgettable.
    Tragic or ironically comical that the coffee shops now have to socially-distance spaces between us?…while lockdowns elsewhere are the ultimate expressions of ‘huis clos’? Thinking aloud, even if nobody listens to me.

  19. INSALATA DI PAROLE by Brendan Connell

    “… and which can make girls made of bronze drink the drops from your lips…”

    From the gold and silver that made Isis island people, to the bronze of concupiscent girls, and here we have, with this densely packed work, a veritably outrageous tour de force where I can imagine such a recipe of ingredients transcending its own word salads and becoming its own proffered ‘pomace’, the crushing of which wrung semantics is both what it is for its own sake but also a constructive distilling of something else altogether. But which is best or worst? ‘Best and worst are but limited and relative observations’, as the narrator in the previous story says at one point.

  20. 2B8EB5DD-0A5A-43AC-B929-0EE0A824C48B

    A FOOD CRITIC’S NIGHTMARE by Jessica Sequeira

    “What ignoramus is it who said that hell is made up of eternally burning fires?”

    …. not Sartre in ‘Huis Clos’, I guess, but here we have a woman who is somehow a morphed version of Egon Ronay writing a letter of resignation (in more than one sense of that word?) vividly describing how she is affected by the paintings of women by another Egon, one Egon Schiele. Not sure that is an observation exactly as the story makes it, but I was very struck by the resultant prophecy of a co-vivid nightmare where the so-called burning fires of Hell are burnt out, thus leaving mounds of ebon burntness to taste. Even when she wakes up as herself …. but especially when waking up as an Egon Schiele model?

    “; there is the slenderest of lines between the refined and the disgusting,”


    Symbols are funny things. Very much malleable to our needs.

    A satisfying climax to this serial, where Lauren and ‘I’, as a result of the need to shelter from particularly grief-stricken rain, take my canoe into a part of the East London canals neither had seen before, assuming hardly anyone had ever seen it before, under a building’s overhang and beyond. Here between the banks of never was and never will be, I guess, here we find more sculptures of elephants, by the sculptor version of Banksy who thrives off absence, this Banksy with no need of an audience. Together with a more proudly erotic version of a newly painted Egon Schiele? And spired snails to eat with mallow seed, a herb that I had in my canoe. The ‘can do’ of symbols as well as of culinary accoutrements. I often seem to have that nous when gestalting my craft, if I say so myself.

  22. MY DREAM VACATION by Lawrence Burton

    “In my dream, Tarbuck reminded me…”

    …that we must have been sharing a dream, that also must be the strongest form of a CO-vivid dream possible. Here, two mates touring Mexico, with the blend of dream and reality that is so typical of what must have been prophesied by it for us today, with cross-currents to life back home in London where a figure involved in the dream turns up to visit the wife of one of the travellers, as he found out when later phoning her! Not sure when the gnome steak was ordered and in which restaurant. And whether in dream or reality. Or neither.
    A niftily amusing tale.

  23. NETTLE TEA by Ursula Pflug

    A neato brieflet of a hint of culinary use for nettles.
    I don’t think this author knows that my wife and I actually have nettle tea every day at lunchtime. We HONESTLY do!
    But perhaps this book already knew? As a physical thing, it possesses strange powers, as seems to have been demonstrated by one of my photographs of it above!

  24. THE ENTERIC UNIVERSE by Justin Isis

    “The enteric universe is prone to fictions of its own, although a proper inventory of them has yet to be made.”

    A tongue could become a tongue ouroboros, a tongue of tastes circularly end to end. And, again, I do have the nous to inventorise the labyrinth’s gestalt, to reach my hand deep into its gullet, as this final work, a complex — often DamianM-like — work that somehow mischievously nettles me to claim such powers. I am both servant and master, I hope. Dreamer and dreamed. Pretentious as well as unpretentious.
    This book is special, something that radiates an extramurality to its covers, pervading as well as transcending its own cookbook ethos, both playful and serious. And this final work is probably its most difficult one to plumb. I am still working through its coils and tunnel visions. Entire as well as enteric.

    “And for all that our eyes are often famished,…”



  25. Pingback: The Unimaginable Zero Summer | Douglas Thompson's Blog

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