The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

by Alice B. Toklas

Toklas's rich mixture of menus and memories of meals shared with such famous friends as Wilder, Picasso, and Hemingway, originally published in 1954.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Food and Drink
  • Rating: 3.99
  • Pages: 304
  • Publish Date: June 1st 1998 by Lyons Press
  • Isbn10: 1558217541
  • Isbn13: 9781558217546

What People Think about "The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook"

Most of the recipes are French because that is where Toklas and Stein spent most of their time. Toklas collected recipes all her life and this was her passion. Of course, the most famous recipe in the book is in the chapter which is recipes contributed by friends; Hashish Fudge, with the recommendation that two pieces are enough and a batch will cause great hilarity at any party. The chapter on servants illustrates why the cooking could be so extravagant, as for most of their time together Stein and Toklas employed a cook/housekeeper.

This scintillating literary memoir of a recipe book is one result of that. Yet Alices writing is so good that one can derive great pleasure simply by reading and tasting in the mind. That is the infamous Haschich Fudge, given towards the back of the book, in the section of Recipes From Friends. Unaware, of course, until after this book had been published.

To get the obvious out of the way, The Alice B Toklas Cookbook is wonderful. But finding this 1984 edition at Goodwill not long ago, and for only a dollah, AND an introduction written by MFK Fisher, happy book-dance and sold. Then I read the introduction and was reminded of this: decades ago I worked for a print publication and became friendly with its very engaging food columnist, initially over a shared love of MFK Fisher. Instead of focusing on Toklas life her passion for cooking, gardening, her homemaking for Gertrude the introduction is used to first detail how Janet Flanner, an elderly writer who had the temerity to be living in the Parisian hotel room Fisher wanted for herself, refused to include me (Fishers italics), even vicariously, when she went several times a week to the clinic where Alice B. Fishers snakelike introduction fades to nothing, while in these pages Toklas, even from her sickbed, is cooking, entertaining, remembering, loving and very much alive. So Fooey to you Mary Frances (although I still love How to Cook a Wolf, but count yourself lucky nobody will ever ask me to write an introduction for it.) STARS AWARDED - Alice B.

Reading her introduction, followed by Toklas's friendly, unpretentious book, really just points out what an asshat and classist Fisher was. It was interesting and a little surprising to read stories in which Stein is famous, as she's so largely forgotten today.

Toklas was persuaded by friends after Steins death to publish a collection of her memoirs and recipes. There is some overlap between the autobiography and the cook book in terms of Toklas and Steins life together in France, their year-long visit back to America, cooking for artists such as Pablo Picasso, surviving the deprivations of two world wars etc., But the biography was actually written by Stein, not Toklas, whereas the cookbook finally lets Toklass words and personality shine through. Toklass huge number and variety of recipes were gathered from French people in whose homes they dined, from restaurants they visited all over the country, from various servants who came to cook for them, and from friends and chefs they met while making Steins lecture tour of the United States, 1934-35. Toklas shares numerous anecdotes among the recipes, including the stories of the womens service to soldiers during World War I, hardships from food rationing during both world wars (before the blessed black market swung into action), and the bother of having German and Italian army men billeted upon them. The last chapter of the book is a charming account of her last years with Stein as they tended their garden in their country home at Bilignin in the Rhône-Alps region of France.

Nella seconda metà perde un po' di verve (molte ricette, una dietro l'altra), ma recupera nel finale con un capitolo sul personale di servizio che le ha accompagnate nella loro vita francese e gli incontri con i soldati americani. Certo il punto di vista è assai privilegiato: il loro problema principale non è trovare il cibo, ma trovare gli ingredienti per piatti da gourmet anche durante il razionamento.

But, the recipes are presented in a similar fashion to Fisher's, i.e., there's a story and some follow-up opinions around each of her recipes. Some of the recipes are hard to create, because I don't have access to many of the ingredients.

The chapter on servants is like cocktail quips tossed off without the benefit of cocktails or facial expression. It is so cheaply acquired and so dearly paid for." On gardening: "The first gathering of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby -- how could anything so beautiful be mine."

Alice Babette Toklas was an American-born member of the Parisian avant-garde of the early 20th century.