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Imagination in the Plastic Arts

Roast chicken with orange

By Tim Hazell

In his process of forgetting and remembering things unseen, Argentinian poet Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986) was free to listen to voices from other constellations. “Adam Cast Forth” shimmers like an oasis retreating before a traveler:

Was there a Garden or was the Garden a dream?

Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried,

Almost for consolation, if the bygone period

Over which this Adam, wretched now, once reigned supreme


States of daydreaming have potent implications for great art. In his 1932 portrait of Marie Therese Walter, Girl Before a Mirror, Picasso’s Corn Goddess dreamily expresses an underlying eroticism. His mistress frequently appears sleeping—head melding into the crook of one arm, hair cascading in spirals of Mediterranean light.

This entreaty by surrealist poet Guillaume Appollinaire touches primal sentiments. His pleas for peace, greater tolerance, and the easing of imagination’s constraints offer us a promise of deep adventure.


Be indulgent…

We who seek adventure in all places

Are not your enemies

We wish to give you vast and strange domains

In those places are new fires, in colors not yet seen

Flames and colors we must make real


Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) was an American writer of novels, poetry, and plays. A literary innovator and pioneer, Stein moved to Paris in 1903 and settled there for life, becoming famous as a collector of Modernist art and an artists’ patron. Stein’s lifetime companion was Alice B. Toklas, an astute observer of the early twentieth-century Montmartre atelier scene, and a great cook. James Beard called her “one of the really great cooks of all time.” Picasso regarded her chicken dishes as especially magnificent!


Alice’s Roast Chicken with Port and Orange


3-1/2 lb roasting chicken


2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup ruby port

1/2 cup orange juice

3 tbsp heavy cream

Zest of 1 orange, grated

Salt and pepper to taste


Sprinkle chicken generously with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. Preheat oven to 400̊ F. Bring chicken to room temperature. Warm butter and oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Brown the chicken, breast side down for 5 minutes, then turn over and brown back for 5 minutes. Place skillet in the oven and roast the chicken for 45 minutes. Pour port over the bird and baste. Roast 10 minutes more, then add orange juice and baste.

Roast 10 minutes more or until the juices of the thigh run clear when pierced. Remove chicken and transfer to a cutting board. Skim excess fat off skillet juices. Place skillet over medium heat, add cream, and stir up crisp bits on the bottom. Add half the orange zest and allow sauce to reduce, stirring constantly. Season to taste. Carve chicken and transfer to serving platter. Pour over some of the sauce. Transfer the rest to a gravy boat. Sprinkle remaining orange zest over the chicken and serve with the sauce.


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