Alice B. Toklas Cook Book

Posted on October 5, 2010


The Alice B. Toklas Cook BookPublished originally in 1954, the Alice B. Toklas Cook Book is undoubtedly the most elegant cook book ever written. As much a cook book as memoir of one-half of perhaps the most famous lesbian couple of the 20th century, it’s perhaps not the best for actually using to prepare a meal – the recipes are often written in a style, closer to Mrs. Beeton than to Betty Crocker. But its charm makes up for any difficulty one might have in following the recipes. The book is a window into the lives of Toklas and Gertrude Stein, and deftly captures a place (France) and a time (before, during and after WWII), and the heady social life of America’s most famous (lesbian) expatriates of the time. Not to mention Toklas’ battles to get food during the war, a line of cooks who come and go leaving behind them dishes that Toklas patiently compiled. Then there is the famous recipe for hashish fudge for which the cook book is famous – given to Toklas by the eccentric artist and writer Brion Gysin (supposedly as a joke on Gysin’s part), the recipe doesn’t sound all that appealing.

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book is still in print and can be bought on Amazon, here. It also has its own wikipedia page, here.