Before the pandemic, Circus Harmony in St. Louis performed about 700 shows a year, mostly in an indoor ring in the City Museum, a civic institution that can perhaps best (though still inaccurately) be described as an interactive art installation. The fact that the Circus Harmony performers are between eight and 18 years old does not diminish their amazing feats in the slightest. They turn backflips across the ring. They contort themselves into impossible positions. They do stunts on unicycles. They walk across high wires. They juggle balls and clubs. They hang by their toes from aerial silks and rings. Just about the only things they don’t do are flying trapeze and human cannonball stunts (the ceiling is too low) and anything involving fire (fire codes). It is a delight to watch.
Since the pandemic, however, the cast of Circus Harmony, like performers everywhere, have not been able to do their tricks before a live audience. There have been Zoom and outdoor performances, but they haven’t been quite the same. The cast has also, like people everywhere, been spending a lot more time in the kitchen. And so Jessica Hentoff, the director and ringmaster of Circus Harmony, thought it would be a great idea to combine their eagerness to perform and their new interest in cooking into... an interactive circus cookbook!
Likely the first of its kind, the cookbook, which lives on the Circus Harmony website, pairs recipes with thematically-related circus performances, filmed by the performers and their parents in their kitchens and in the Circus Harmony ring. “Some of it is very bizarre—let’s just say it,” Hentoff told the Riverfront Times. The thin-crust St. Louis pizza recipe, for example, is accompanied by crust-juggling (perhaps to be expected) and a chef, a monkey, and a slice of pizza riding doing unicycle stunts together (perhaps more surprising). Sushi roll is accompanied by a dramatic re-enactment, on silks, of the life of a salmon before it’s turned into a Philadelphia roll. In all, there are 40 recipes, accompanied by 40 circus acts.
Access to the cookbook is free, but donations are more than welcome.