Is this an ALOUD panel discussion of a preoccupation with ancient civilizations as expressed through modern cuisine, or a lunch at Melisse? French chef Brigitte Caland is hosting a series of lunches inspired by literary and historical texts, which just might make all other meals seem intellectually impotent in comparison. Those hungry for the dishes of Mesopotamia had their spoons filled with violet barley and yellow lentils; lamb stew cooked in yogurt with pine cones; squab in a dish made of pastry. Lunches named Suleiman the Magnificent and Abbasid Dynasty might sound ambitious, but if art imitates life and life imitates art, then why can't food imitate ancient empires?

The New Testament, a four course meal, will be served on Sunday, April 18, at 1 p.m. at Melisse in Santa Monica. Price: $65 or $90 with four glasses of wine.

Other lunches:

Abbasid Dynasty: May 30, 1 p.m.

Suleiman the Magnificent: June (TBA)

LA Weekly