What the Great Gay Authors Ate
In many cases, gay authors are also aesthetes, and who'd be surprised to learn that they often take an enthusiastic interest in food? (Read about this week's Big Gay Food Blog here.)
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Even by modern standards, Wilde was flamboyantly "out." He toured America in velvet knee-breeches and purple frock coats, eating in the country's finest restaurants, and quipping, "We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language." American-born actress and proto-feminist Elizabeth Robins was a close friend of Wilde's in London, and of him she noted: "Poke him and he would bleed absinthe and clotted truffles."
At his homosexuality trial in London, there was testimony that he often partook of expensive meals at the Savoy Hotel, where he was accustomed to paying 16 shillings for a meal of roast chicken and salad for two delivered to his room -- which produced an audible gasp from the judge, who could not imagine spending so much for a meal.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Brooklyn poet Walt Whitman would have been quite at home in the current foodie climate of his beloved borough. There was apparently nothing he liked better than rich, fatty meats, causing a friend, the naturalist John Burroughs, to be quite concerned. Apparently Whitman's unvarying breakfast was a steak or other large cut of meat and a dozen or two oysters.
George Sand (1804-1876)
No one is quite sure of the sexual proclivities of French novelist Aurore Dupin, who courted the disapprobation of her peers by constantly dressing in men's clothes, taking a male pseudonym (George Sand), and smoking fat stogies in public. She also insisted on living apart from her husband, the Baron Dudevant. She bore him two children, however, suggesting they must have been intimate at some point.
Years later, she famously nursed Frédéric Chopin back to health on the island of Majorca. He apparently detested olive oil, and the smell of pork nauseated him. Ergo, she exercised her culinary skills by preparing a diet of fortifying broths and hot chocolate.