Let Them Eat Cage Cookies
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Let Them Eat Cage Cookies

John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, London 1964. Photo by Douglas H. Jeffery

We wouldn’t be doing the Merce Cunningham acquisition justice if we didn’t have at least one story about food. Here’s a short anecdote and recipe for John Cage’s almond cookies, a treat that made the rounds through the Merce Cunningham Dance Company establishment and its friends. Cage and Cunningham were introduced to a macrobiotic diet by Yoko Ono, and the cookies reflect those healthy precepts. Merce was particularly fond of these, and now you can make them, too.


Laura Kuhn [now director of the John Cage Trust] and John Cage were at the house of Teeny Duchamp, in France. John decided to make them his cookies. Teeny, her cook, et al, were put off by the idea of health food cookies, but the cook got the ingredients together. John, with Laura, made the cookies.  When they were done, John offered them around, and everyone reluctantly took one. But shortly after eating their first one, they each took another…


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, grind:
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. raw oats
Combine almonds and oats in a large bowl.  Stir in:
1 c. whole wheat flour or brown rice flour (if you want a gluten-free option, you may need to add slightly more than the 1 c. brown rice flour, so that you are later able to form balls with the dough)
Add ground cinnamon to the dry mixture.

To the dry mixture, add:
1/2 c. almond oil (other nut oils work as well)
1/2 c. real maple syrup (no Aunt Jemima!)

Stir mixture until you are able to form one-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly, and press a small dollop of your favorite jam or preserves (jelly is too thin) into the center of each cookie. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the pan once, halfway through the baking process. Cookies are done when light golden brown. They store well in the fridge.

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