Did you ever wonder what most circus artists eat to fuel their bodies? Thanks to Samuel Sion (aka Rose) and Sylvia Friedman of the award-winning Duo Rose trapeze act, you will now have more of a clue. It turns out circus people eat everything, voraciously, but they take their time making works of art out of their food, because more often than not, they are sharing it with friends after a show. Circus as a never-ending dinner party can lead to an amazing variety of recipes, especially when you consider exactly how multi-cultural most circus companies are, and that’s what Sion considered when he was holed up for 6 months after a back surgery, recovering and unable to train. That is when he hit upon the idea of writing a circus cookbook by gathering together all of the favorite meals he and his wife Sylvia have shared with circus friends over the years on the road and at home. And circus people sure can cook. For 144 pages they take you on a culinary adventure around the world with the main stops at soups and salads, entrees and desserts.
Along with the detailed recipe (often written in the words of the recipe originator) and photos of the finished product comes many stories of the various circus artists as well—or of how Sam and Sylvia met and befriended them. Along with a bit of an introduction in to their area of circus expertise, you get to delve in to their world—and a very eclectic mix of recipes ranging from vegan egg salad to stick-to-your-ribs turkey chili, and everything in between, including two options for tomato pie or tart.
But what makes the book so interesting and more readable than your average cookbook, is that a story unfolds as you read it—the story of who Sam and Sylvia are, what their lives as traveling circus artists are like and who has influence over it, more specifically, who has cared for them enough to make them a delicious dinner. And each recipe is so personal and specific (sometimes a simple cocktail made with in-season ingredients and sometimes a complex process that involves fermentation) but also a charming and eclectic example of what diversity we humans have cooked up over the ages—especially ones who are on the road or far from the comforts of their native foods.
Who doesn’t want the recipe of a beloved contortion teacher for Mongolian dumplings? Or a Hungarian casserole dish called Rakott Krumpli from a juggler (hint; there are baked layers of eggs and potatoes)? Not every dish will be the type you toss together on a tiny caravan cooktop—in fact, most dishes are either the comfort foods of a particular region (what are Filipino lumpias?) or an incredibly sophisticated dish one puts together for favorite guests—like Ron’s Oyster Chavalier. Sam Rose himself sneaks in quite a few of his own recipes, and it appears he might know his way around a kitchen. But it’s not until you get to the end that you discover the big reveal, Sylvia is the baker in the family!
Saved the Best for Last—Desserts
Desserts range from a French foot juggler’s recipe for tarte aux l’oignions to a pavlova from a Mexican Elvis impersonator, and of course, many mouth watering recipes from Sylvia Friedman, including an intriguing recipe for homemade gummi bears. With all of the international ingredient measurements, they decided to provide a measurement convertor at the back of the book, but not before you stumble across the numerous cocktail recipes.
Perhaps equally as compelling as the stories and recipes are the deluxe photos of circus artists, all interwoven with their recipes—making the whole thing a veritable coffee table book, a kitchen staple and a who’s who or memoir of modern circus, which will make it rather tricky to decide which room to keep your copy of the book in.
Sam Rose Sion and Sylvia Friedman are selling advance copies of the International Circus Cookbook through his Kickstarter campaign until it is published mid-October, 2018.