Re-issued on the 125th anniversary of Buckminster Fuller’s beginning, the cookbook Synergetic Stew — Explorations in Dymaxion Eating was originally introduced to Fuller as a gift on his 86th birthday, in 1982, by the personnel of the Fuller Institute in Philadelphia. It is not the sort of cookbook you’d acquire — then or now — for the recipes, unless of course you are desperate for dated instructions for shrimp salad or chocolate mousse. Synergetic Stew is alternatively a doc of a magical, idiosyncratic lifestyle, dominated publicly by heady science but loaded in equal measure with “light, wild matters.”
The book’s contributors are a who’s who of 20th-century artwork and science, ranging from Ruth Asawa to Margaret Mead, all of whom share a adore and fondness for “Bucky” that emanates from each individual website page. In anecdotes, editorialized recipes, and poems (some written by Fuller himself), we discover of Fuller’s penchant for black tea, eaten “like bunker gas close to the clock at a amount just under toxicity” his long-lasting sobriety and his established excess weight loss technique of eating practically exclusively steak, spinach, and Jello.
Fuller’s grandson, Jaime Snyder, rounds out the reissue with recollections of his childhood with Bucky, discovering to eat sea urchin with Isamu Noguchi and foraging for chanterelles with John Cage. But he also brings the reserve back down to earth with an impression of Fuller serving friends buckets of Kentucky Fried Rooster, completely capturing the complexity of a man for whom “nobody and almost nothing is standard.”