Revisiting the 1970s Cookbook Designed for Orgies

The story behind the book may be more surreal than the book itself

In 1972, a cookbook like no other reached bookstore shelves across America.

In 1972, Daud Alani and Jack S. Margolis collaborated on a cookbook. Alani had had a long career as the owner of a series of conceptually bold hotels and eateries, including a restaurant chain inspired by the life of Henry VIII. Margolis also had a penchant for high concepts, including a chapbook of poetry taken from Richard Nixon’s comments on the Watergate tapes

Each one of them had a life that seemed like something out of a screenplay by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewsk, who have made a career out of turning unlikely celebrities into the subjects of acclaimed movies and television shows. 

Taken together, Alani and Margolis were a kind of supergroup of 1960s eccentricity. But instead of forming a band, they wrote a cookbook, and it’s something people are still talking about today. The title of this culinary masterpiece? Cooking for Orgies and Other Large Parties. Which, of course, begs several questions. Just what the food needs of an orgy? If you make a recipe designed for an orgy and simply serve it at a dinner party that isn’t an orgy, will your guests immediately figure out what’s going on? 

At Literary Hub, Lizzy Saxe explored the history of this distinctive cookbook. Saxe reports that the dishes in the cookbook include the likes of “Scallop Fantasia, Mrs. Ernie Lundquist Memorial Okra, and Avocado Symphony.” And it’s all dedicated to Julia Child and Graham Kerr. 

The story behind the making of Cooking for Orgies and Other Large Parties is a fascinating tale, involving an innovative system of recipes and a wholehearted embrace of the more pleasurable aspects of life. And it definitely seems like the book’s audience has endured, whether via book collectors or sex-positive foodies: copies on Amazon and eBay start at just below $100 and get more expensive from there.

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