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The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

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

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

30 review for The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    3.5 stars Yes this really is primarily a cookbook with some reminiscences thrown in. It was written after her partner, Gertrude Stein’s, death. Food was clearly very important in their lives and it is written with great passion. Contributory to that may be that Toklas had jaundice when she wrote it and was on a strict diet. Most of the recipes are French because that is where Toklas and Stein spent most of their time. But there are some thrown in from the US and a sprinkling from most other Europ 3.5 stars Yes this really is primarily a cookbook with some reminiscences thrown in. It was written after her partner, Gertrude Stein’s, death. Food was clearly very important in their lives and it is written with great passion. Contributory to that may be that Toklas had jaundice when she wrote it and was on a strict diet. Most of the recipes are French because that is where Toklas and Stein spent most of their time. But there are some thrown in from the US and a sprinkling from most other European countries and a few from further afield. Toklas collected recipes all her life and this was her passion. The arrangement of the recipes is idiosyncratic to say the least, with the order being more of when they were tried and cooked as Toklas takes the reader through the years. There are lots of asides about the various people they knew and places they visited; bit of a restaurant tour of France in the first forty years of the twentieth century. The tone can be waspish and rather dismissive and French cuisine is always the benchmark; “The French never add Tabasco, ketchup or Worcestershire sauce, nor do they eat any of the innumerable kinds of pickles, nor do they accompany a meat course with radishes, olives or salted nuts” The recipes are often complex and time consuming requiring oceans of cream and acres of butter. There is a recipe for a leg of lamb which requires the cook to inject the meat with orange juice twice a day for a week whilst it is being marinaded. It seems that most things that moved were eaten. There is even a recipe for Larks which begins, “Place 2 dozen plucked larks in an oven with 6 rashers of Parma smoked ham …”! 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. Incidentally, the fudge (more accurately a brownie), has its own facebook page! 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. There are interesting recollections throughout the book of their friends (famous and less famous). The chapter on the Nazi occupation is interesting. Being both Jewish and lesbian, Stein and Toklas cannot have been very comfortable in Nazi occupied France. It is an interesting read; the range of recipes is broad. There are plenty of vegetable recipes and a wide range of puddings, some good wit and a fascinating account of Toklas’s life with Stein. It won’t be to everyone’s taste and for me parts of it grated (maintaining the culinary theme), but it’s great fun as well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ^

    This book always reminds me of one of my (late) godmothers who would pick up her glass of pre-dinner sherry and start reminiscing how she had ‘discovered’ the young and (then) unknown Daniel Day Lewis. In Paris, in 1908, after moving in with Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas began to develop a knowledgeable passion for the fine cooking of France. This scintillating literary memoir of a recipe book is one result of that. That, in a nutshell, is to me the prime delight of this book. Alice writes in a This book always reminds me of one of my (late) godmothers who would pick up her glass of pre-dinner sherry and start reminiscing how she had ‘discovered’ the young and (then) unknown Daniel Day Lewis. In Paris, in 1908, after moving in with Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas began to develop a knowledgeable passion for the fine cooking of France. This scintillating literary memoir of a recipe book is one result of that. That, in a nutshell, is to me the prime delight of this book. Alice writes in a very matter of fact style. She remembers buying two hams and hundreds of cigarettes immediately after the1906 San Francisco earthquake, whilst that city was still burning. She recalls the challenge of catering to Picasso’s strict diet, Zeppelin raids, cooking during the Occupation in WW2. Ernest Hemingway and Thornton Wilder number amongst the multitude of characters who pass affectionately through her pages. And the recipes read well. Very well. To my shame I have never cooked any; principally because so very many require copious quantities of butter, cream, and egg yolk. After all, this IS French cooking; and THAT’S why it tastes so good. Yet Alice’s writing is so good that one can derive great pleasure simply by reading and tasting ‘in the mind’. Zero calories, and very, very, satisfying too. Perhaps I ought to design and market a meal-less training course as the new post-Christmas diet? Would I get anyone to part with their money? However, there is ONE (infamous) recipe that I leave well alone. That is the infamous Haschich Fudge, given towards the back of the book, in the section of “Recipes From Friends.” Exactly what manner of a friend was Brian Gysen, I wonder? The unfortunate editor of this book (at Michael Joseph) was entirely and blissfully unaware that the principle ingredient, canibis sativa [sic], is otherwise known as marijuana. Unaware, of course, until after this book had been published. That recipe has now gone down in the annals of folklore. I last heard Press mention of it some six or seven years ago when UK sufferers of multiple sclerosis were lobbying for cannabis to be legalised for medical usage. Read this book for that frisson if you wish; but your prime reason for reading this book should be to experience, learn from, and replicate the warmth, love, and good fellowship of the circle of friends who are inevitably drawn to surround a good and sociable cook.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rhian

    Best book ever. The recipes are basically impossible, but that's immaterial.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    MFK Fisher really is insufferable. Reading her introduction, followed by Toklas's friendly, unpretentious book, really just points out what an asshat and classist Fisher was. That said, Toklas is not much of a writer, and she knows it. She does have great stories, and lived a fascinating life. Ironically, I like it for much the same reason that I liked Fisher's books from the interwar period: it's great context on a complicated time in European history. Having it witnessed and recorded by America MFK Fisher really is insufferable. Reading her introduction, followed by Toklas's friendly, unpretentious book, really just points out what an asshat and classist Fisher was. That said, Toklas is not much of a writer, and she knows it. She does have great stories, and lived a fascinating life. Ironically, I like it for much the same reason that I liked Fisher's books from the interwar period: it's great context on a complicated time in European history. Having it witnessed and recorded by American ex-pats with unpolitical lives is an interesting way to learn how people were living. As to the recipes: hello to the butter! There are a few things here I would make, and it was nice to see my idea of bechamel validated. Largely, though, it's of interest as a historical document. It was interesting and a little surprising to read stories in which Stein is famous, as she's so largely forgotten today. Worth a read, but unlikely to go back, unless it's for a recipe that's since gone out of fashion.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

    Really liked this. Toklas recollects her life with Gertrude Stein through food. By her own admission , Toklas is not an accomplished writer but this really adds to the charm. Not sure, you’d cook any of the food these days.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Helynne

    Alice B. Toklas was quite the unusual character in American history and literature, and as she was always the secretary-companion to Gertrude Stein, 1907-46, and never an author herself, it is nice to hear her voice in this volume as well as to receive the numerous recipes from both American and French cuisine that she collected during their life together in France. But this is far more than just a cookbook. Toklas was persuaded by friends after Stein’s death to publish a collection of her memoi Alice B. Toklas was quite the unusual character in American history and literature, and as she was always the secretary-companion to Gertrude Stein, 1907-46, and never an author herself, it is nice to hear her voice in this volume as well as to receive the numerous recipes from both American and French cuisine that she collected during their life together in France. But this is far more than just a cookbook. Toklas was persuaded by friends after Stein’s death to publish a collection of her memoirs and recipes. She protested, insisting that her story had already been told in the wonderful Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. There is some overlap between the autobiography and the cook book in terms of Toklas and Stein’s 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 Toklas’s words and personality shine through. At its publication in 1954, the book became infamous for its one controversial recipe—Haschich Fudge, which later were known as Alice B. Toklas Brownies. Because the instructions called for ground marijuana along with the sugar, butter, spices and other good things, the recipe was banned from the earlier editions. (More on this recipe later). Toklas’s 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 Stein’s lecture tour of the United States, 1934-35. Toklas shares numerous anecdotes among the recipes, including the stories of the women’s 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. Housing soldiers and officers had its up side, however. Some of the men shared recipes from their countries, cooked for the ladies, and procured contraband cheese and other treats that they shared. Among the many recipes Toklas includes are how to cook frog’s legs, duck à l’orange, and regional dishes such as quiche, gazpacho, and Alsatian cakes. Poultry, beef, and fish recipes abound as do soups, salads and countless desserts. (These two ladies apparently never worried about calories or cholesterol because these recipes are typically filled with lots of butter, cream, and eggs). As for the infamous fudge—something “anyone could whip up on a rainy day”—Toklas calls it “the food of Paradise—of Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradise: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR.” (Right). As one of the ingredients is “a bunch or pulverized canibus sativa, she warns that it should be “eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient ” (260). She even gives instructions on how to plant, cultivate, and harvest the guilty herb. In her forward to the book, M.F.K. Fisher notes that she has heard the brownies 1) have absolutely no effect, and 2) are potentially lethal. Actually, the recipe sounds totally yummy—chocolatey and dense with nuts, spices, and dried fruits—and I would like to try it someday (minus the weed). One of Alice’s greatest joys was growing and harvesting her own fresh vegetables. 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. “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?” (266). Lovely recipes for their home-grown vegetables, fruits, and berries follow.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Roberta

    Alice Toklas incontra Gertrude Stein in Francia, verso la fine della II guerra mondiale. Si offrono quindi volontarie per guidare veicoli di rifornimento per ospedali francesi e truppe americane, avendo così la possibilità di girare buona parte della nazione. La Toklas nasconde una piccola biografia di quei giorni in questo interessante libro di cucina. Le ricette citate sono quasi esclusivamente francesi. Si tratta di piatti assaggiati nelle case in cui sono state ospiti, negli alberghi in cui h Alice Toklas incontra Gertrude Stein in Francia, verso la fine della II guerra mondiale. Si offrono quindi volontarie per guidare veicoli di rifornimento per ospedali francesi e truppe americane, avendo così la possibilità di girare buona parte della nazione. La Toklas nasconde una piccola biografia di quei giorni in questo interessante libro di cucina. Le ricette citate sono quasi esclusivamente francesi. Si tratta di piatti assaggiati nelle case in cui sono state ospiti, negli alberghi in cui hanno alloggiato, recuperate dai cuochi che hanno lavorato per loro. Molte per me suonano strane, con accostamenti che mai avrei pensato di fare. L'uso di burro, uova, panna e altri grassi è però così diffuso da farmi alzare il colesterolo per osmosi. La parte divertente sono le piccole citazioni buttate qua e là come se non fossero importani: Picasso che si emoziona davanti a un piatto di pesce, Mallarmé che passa alle scrittrici un documento autografo con la ricetta della marmellata di cocco, Josephine Baker che oltre a lavorare per il controspionaggio ha tempo per farsi intitolare una crema pasticcera. Ovviamente non manca la citazione dal teatro di Alexandre Dumas padre, che infila ricette anche nelle opere teatrali. Ribadisco che la lettura rimane in primis quella di un ricettario: ci sono ingredienti, quantità, modi di cottura. Tuttavia è piacevole, e le protagoniste assai golose. 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. L'esagerato numero di tartufi che riempiono queste pagine, a volte, è poco dignotoso.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gila Gila

    Cranky Old Lady Confession: yes, this is a long gripe about an INTRODUCTION written 35 years ago for a book published in 1954. To get the obvious out of the way, The Alice B Toklas Cookbook is wonderful. I want all of her dishes, one after the other, never mind that the rest of the country would then be out of eggs, cream and butter for the next five or six years. I wouldn’t care, having succumbed to a massive coronary just after the last luscious bite. I used to have a first edition paperback o Cranky Old Lady Confession: yes, this is a long gripe about an INTRODUCTION written 35 years ago for a book published in 1954. To get the obvious out of the way, The Alice B Toklas Cookbook is wonderful. I want all of her dishes, one after the other, never mind that the rest of the country would then be out of eggs, cream and butter for the next five or six years. I wouldn’t care, having succumbed to a massive coronary just after the last luscious bite. I used to have a first edition paperback of Ms. Toklas’s infamous recipes and memories. The little yellow jacketed book was worn and fraying from regular re-reading, and by the time I somehow lost it, I knew it so well (the war chapters especially, from the opening “In the beginning, like camels, we lived on our past” on through the myriad of ways to prepare crayfish when that’s all you can get), I didn’t hurry to find another copy. 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. When he landed an interview with her, and not just an interview but lunch at her house, I extracted vows to Tell All afterwards. When he came back to NY, I grabbed him – so?? Lunch? Anecdotes?– he sighed, and half-smiled, and said, “So … Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is an absolute bitch.” From the start of the Alice B. Toklas forward, Fisher is primarily interested in only two things; her obsession over Ms. Toklas’ looks (by the third paragraph she’s already described her as a “small, ugly woman”) and the bitter affront Fisher took at not being personally introduced at the sad end of Alice’s life. She goes off on a wild tear about how she knew Ms Toklas so well from reading her, and should have been afforded a face to face. 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 (Fisher’s italics), even vicariously, when she went several times a week to the clinic where Alice B. Toklas lay like a sightless, speechless vegetable.” (Personally, when thinking of vegetables and Alice B. Toklas, I'll go with her delectable sounding artichoke recipes). Fisher even snipes that daily she bought Ms. Toklas’ favourite pastries to be brought along as gifts, “and watched Janet pretend that she was not going to eat the little treats herself.” Then there are 2 pages focused on Alice’s appearance, ‘her nose big or even huge’, ‘her strong black moustache” and her ‘almost offensive’ choice of footwear. Fisher finally gets to the writing of the cookbook, but has to point out that as Ms. Toklas was ill with hepatitis at the time, ‘her naturally sallow face turned pumpkin-yellow.’ Fisher does, ultimately, praise the book, calling it abundantly satisfying, but not before taking a few jabs at certain passages. The ‘Recipes from Friends’ couldn’t have been written by the author, with their ‘much distorted recipes’, and Alice’s ‘lyrical directions’ for concocting her famous Hash Brownies Fisher contends were actually the work of a friend, not Alice herself. It’s Alice herself who wrote the real introduction to her work, and all that need be included. She writes of her equal love for America and for France, her adopted home, and how their differences in approach to cooking and to dining inspired the cookbook. “I wrote it for America, but it will be pleasant if the ideas in it, besides surviving the Atlantic, manage to cross the Channel and find acceptance in British kitchens too.” Having been translated into multiple languages, The Alice B. Toklas cookbook is still in print 65 years after it first appeared. Fisher’s 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. Toklas: 20, MFK -8

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    I found a paperback copy of the cookbook in Asheville NC for $1.72 plus tax. It was the literary bargain of the year for me. This is not the hard-cover, ergo no introduction by MFK Fisher. 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. Her flirtation with pot brownies is a fable, inspired by the inclusion of a recipe for "hashish brownies". That lone recipe appears in the appendix of recipes from her I found a paperback copy of the cookbook in Asheville NC for $1.72 plus tax. It was the literary bargain of the year for me. This is not the hard-cover, ergo no introduction by MFK Fisher. 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. Her flirtation with pot brownies is a fable, inspired by the inclusion of a recipe for "hashish brownies". That lone recipe appears in the appendix of recipes from her friends. Some of the recipes are hard to create, because I don't have access to many of the ingredients. The ingredients and amounts seem inexact for some dishes. My favorite recipe is "Godmother's Chicken", which also is inexact. For one, the recipe calls for "one fine chicken" and I've made this dish a dozen times, never knowing whether my chickens met the author's standards. This book is quite autobiographical, too. Toklas shares many of her exploits with her companion Gertrude Stein. Her recollection of their travels around France during WW I, for example, may be burnished with details that did not actually occur, but the stories are charmingly recounted by Miss Toklas.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Not what I hoped for, but I guess I hoped for too much. MFK Fisher's intro sold Toklas too strongly. More than a cookbook, but generally so circumspect about her life and literature that they might as well not exist. I guess I need to read her autobiography. The chapter on servants is like cocktail quips tossed off without the benefit of cocktails or facial expression. Pitiful. The parts about the wars are very good, and I marked many recipes of interest. When she wrote about something she cared Not what I hoped for, but I guess I hoped for too much. MFK Fisher's intro sold Toklas too strongly. More than a cookbook, but generally so circumspect about her life and literature that they might as well not exist. I guess I need to read her autobiography. The chapter on servants is like cocktail quips tossed off without the benefit of cocktails or facial expression. Pitiful. The parts about the wars are very good, and I marked many recipes of interest. When she wrote about something she cared about -- her own cooking or gardening -- she was passionately present. After being sent a crate of live pigeons along with a note that "Alice is clever and will make something delicious of them," she says, "It is certainly a mistake to allow a reputation for cleverness to be born and spread by loving friends. 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."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    This is less a cookbook than a memory of the people she’s known. She and Gertrude Stein lived in France from 1907 until her death in 1967, and that included both World Wars. But even during the wars, her anecdotes are from the perspective of living under the privations imposed by Germany and saving up for the celebration she knew would be coming when France was finally liberated. In the village two of the shopkeepers were to become very useful to me. They said it was their patriotic duty to sell This is less a cookbook than a memory of the people she’s known. She and Gertrude Stein lived in France from 1907 until her death in 1967, and that included both World Wars. But even during the wars, her anecdotes are from the perspective of living under the privations imposed by Germany and saving up for the celebration she knew would be coming when France was finally liberated. In the village two of the shopkeepers were to become very useful to me. They said it was their patriotic duty to sell what the Germans forbade. In which case was it not mine to purchase what they offered? The book is most interesting for its anecdotes; the recipes are interspersed among them. Many of the recipes are simply impracticable nowadays (unless, perhaps, you still live among French farmers) but I do intend to try, at least once, homemade mustard, Greek tarata, and Gypsy goulash.

  12. 4 out of 5

    springsnotfail

    This is really great, partly because it's got a ton of anecdotes and little stories about her artist lesbian ambulance-driver life with Gertrude Stein in France just pre- and during WWII, and partly for the wild prewar French recipes (pheasant stuffed with cottage cheese? 2 gallons of cream and melted butter in everything? lobster and cauliflower salad?!). There are also a bunch of stories from Occupied France, and this image of these ex-pats flowing across the country from place to place, hoard This is really great, partly because it's got a ton of anecdotes and little stories about her artist lesbian ambulance-driver life with Gertrude Stein in France just pre- and during WWII, and partly for the wild prewar French recipes (pheasant stuffed with cottage cheese? 2 gallons of cream and melted butter in everything? lobster and cauliflower salad?!). There are also a bunch of stories from Occupied France, and this image of these ex-pats flowing across the country from place to place, hoarding and swapping food. The story that has most stayed with me is when she watched a German soldier buy a kilo of butter, bite off a corner of it, grimace, and throw it over a wall. She speculates that he didn't know what it was, and wanted to try it, but it wasn't what he expected. A kilo of butter! Such wealth. But nobody touched it after he'd thrown it away.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ffiamma

    che delizia questo ricettario di alice b. toklas in cui le ricette sono il punto di partenza per raccontare la vita quotidiana in francia (e la vita della inossidabile coppia stein/toklas), parlare di gusto, cercare l'origine di alcuni piatti famosi. per quanto quasi tutti i piatti siano di una pesantezza incredibile (visto il modo di cucinare di oggi) e non sia certo un ricettario per vegetariani- ho letto con piacere le elaborate preparazioni e l'ho trovato un libro incredibilmente piacevole e che delizia questo ricettario di alice b. toklas in cui le ricette sono il punto di partenza per raccontare la vita quotidiana in francia (e la vita della inossidabile coppia stein/toklas), parlare di gusto, cercare l'origine di alcuni piatti famosi. per quanto quasi tutti i piatti siano di una pesantezza incredibile (visto il modo di cucinare di oggi) e non sia certo un ricettario per vegetariani- ho letto con piacere le elaborate preparazioni e l'ho trovato un libro incredibilmente piacevole e gustoso, anche per lo stile fresco e semplice dell'autrice

  14. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    Take half a pound of butter, add a cup of cream. This sums up pretty much all the recipes in this interesting cookbook cum memoir by Alice B" Toklas. Living in France in the twenties and thirties meant eating classical cuisine and Alice both supervised the series of cooks who worked in their household or she did the cooking herself. My arteries were clogging as I was reading. I did not dare try any of the recipes for fear I might drop dead on the spot. Different times... The memoir part was more i Take half a pound of butter, add a cup of cream. This sums up pretty much all the recipes in this interesting cookbook cum memoir by Alice B" Toklas. Living in France in the twenties and thirties meant eating classical cuisine and Alice both supervised the series of cooks who worked in their household or she did the cooking herself. My arteries were clogging as I was reading. I did not dare try any of the recipes for fear I might drop dead on the spot. Different times... The memoir part was more interesting than the recipes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ricky German

    This is quite possibly my favorite cookbook. It's very personal and it covers the art of french entertaining. I think it's a perfect supplement to Julia Child's Master the Art of French Cooking. You get so much with this book: a great French cookbook, a neat narrative about mid-century Paris, the recipes of countless other celebrities, and the amazing wit of one of the greatest women of the 20th century. It's so funny how bold she is about how good the recipes are.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy Ruth

    Too bad I can't link to my edition, a small 1960 Anchor Books paperback. Probably one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, though I have never made a thing from it. This summer I swear I will make Scheherezade's Melon. It will mean adding even more useless bottles of liqueurs to my already overstocked bar. No matter--it must be done. I also long to make a Custard Josephine Baker just so I can call it such. This is an utterly charming and absorbing read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides

    My recollection is that there were a few recipes I would like to try but that many of them would require adaptation. These are somewhat like medieval recipes in the sense that they don't have the ingredients conveniently listed before the instructions.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    This older book is more than a cookbook of obsolete recipes, not including the Hashish Brownies. Alice B and her life partner Gertrude travel around Europe in Wartime, visiting the rich and famous and eating at fab restaurants. I say, give it a miss.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    I liked reading the stories in this cookbook. If you want to make any of the dishes, make sure you have lots of butter, cream, and hog fat !

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Maginity

    Nice light read, interesting counterbalance to Stein. Interesting to read Alice in her own words.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Megan Prokott

    At times, very clever and entertaining. Mostly? The recipes impeded every story and I just got bored, sadly.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pat Padden

    If the only thing you know about The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook is that it contains a recipe for hashish fudge, you're missing a lot. There's a whole world in there, and a delightful woman to describe it for you in language so lush and evocative that you'll feel like you're listening to her tell you all about her amazing life in France in a voice that sounds, as James Merrill described it, "like a viola at dusk". (You'll also swoon over the food.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kit

    Found this in a neighborhood Wee Free Library box. Always had wanted to read it. Charming, ironic, delightful, understated stories of Miss Toklas and Gertrude Stein in France from before WWI through the end of WWII. She wrote it while recovering from jaundice. Stein was already dead, and the book was Miss Toklas' way of remembering their happy times together. Recipes use astoundingly large quantities of cream, butter and eggs and generally require a lot of time stirring, often "in one direction o Found this in a neighborhood Wee Free Library box. Always had wanted to read it. Charming, ironic, delightful, understated stories of Miss Toklas and Gertrude Stein in France from before WWI through the end of WWII. She wrote it while recovering from jaundice. Stein was already dead, and the book was Miss Toklas' way of remembering their happy times together. Recipes use astoundingly large quantities of cream, butter and eggs and generally require a lot of time stirring, often "in one direction only." However, I am eager to try a few. I've dogeared about 20 recipes; after the holidays I'll get back to them. Miss Toklas was also an avid, appreciative and hands-on vegetable gardener--reading her descriptions of her veggie garden over the years is a treat. Of course the most famous recipe is her "Haschich Fudge" which she notes "anyone could whip up on a rainy day. This is the food of Paradise--of Baudelaire's Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR...Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one's personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected." The recipe itself involves pulverizing a number of spices and nuts along with the cannibus sativa, adding chopped dried fruits, kneading them together with sugar and "a big pat of butter." She ends the book with a friend asking her if she had ever tried to write. Miss Toklas responds, "As if a cook-book had anything to do with writing." My copy has an introduction by MFK Fisher, equally charming.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jill Blevins

    (This is for the 1954 version) I have a soft spot for memoir published before I was born, written by women. So after reading Justin Spring's "The Gourmand's Way" I was smitten with Alice B. Toklas. I can see why. The voice in this cookbook is adorable and sweet, but not in your Hallmark movie grandma kind of way. More like someone who has had an amazing life, made richer by taking risks and creating her own opportunities, and being exactly who she is. And that isn't a nuclear engineer, but a woma (This is for the 1954 version) I have a soft spot for memoir published before I was born, written by women. So after reading Justin Spring's "The Gourmand's Way" I was smitten with Alice B. Toklas. I can see why. The voice in this cookbook is adorable and sweet, but not in your Hallmark movie grandma kind of way. More like someone who has had an amazing life, made richer by taking risks and creating her own opportunities, and being exactly who she is. And that isn't a nuclear engineer, but a woman who in this case cooks and eats, mostly in France, mostly with famous french types, right after the horrors of the war. It's as if the war depleted everything of traditional French cuisine, and this book is a document of the rebuilding of that culture into something new but without the French really noticing. They have their rules and customs and the way things are done, but after the war, it seems as if progress couldn't help itself. The traditions don't fit anymore. These are the new traditions, although only an American in France could see this. This version doesn't have the Alice B . Toklas brownies recipe, but nobody really cares about that anymore in California, in particular. That little nugget of history was quite well explained in historic detail in Justin Spring's beautifully-written book. Read that first, then read this. It's just precious.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    This book was really fabulous. The descriptions of the food are incredible--both because of the elaborate nature of many of the dishes, the copious inclusion of cream and butter, and because of Toklas's delicious and funny asides even within some of the recipes. I love the form of this cookbook as her reminiscences about living in Paris and the French countryside during two world wars are punctuated by recipes to illustrate visits she had, people she met, or routines she upheld. Though the proce This book was really fabulous. The descriptions of the food are incredible--both because of the elaborate nature of many of the dishes, the copious inclusion of cream and butter, and because of Toklas's delicious and funny asides even within some of the recipes. I love the form of this cookbook as her reminiscences about living in Paris and the French countryside during two world wars are punctuated by recipes to illustrate visits she had, people she met, or routines she upheld. Though the process of putting this together had to be more artful than she pretends (disowning her literary project with a delightful casualness), the form suggests that cooking and eating are central components of memory. The recipes enter as digressions in particular memories of dinner parties, picnics, and outings. She discusses rationing, black market grocery shopping, and growing a vegetable garden. (These last descriptions of her garden are particularly lush and pleasing.) The ritual of preparing food becomes a corollary to living an artistic life and an integral part of living a full, reflective, friend-filled one. There's a snobbish and racist section about trying to find good servants--an element of the modernist generation as cringe-worthy from Toklas as it is from Woolf. A pleasant read to pick up and put down at will because it is divided into great little anecdotes and sections.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    Yay! I enjoyed this, especially the last section on the vegetable gardens at Bilignin. And there are some recipes I want to try. Brioche: put in ALL THE EGGS and then some flour. Kalouga: heat up sugar and butter. Puree of artichoke which sounds like a pain in the ass, but she even say that it's worth the pain in the ass. Many recipes were fine until they mentioned an ingredient I'm not prepared to use. Most of the chicken recipes say you should cover the bird in back fat of pork which sounds li Yay! I enjoyed this, especially the last section on the vegetable gardens at Bilignin. And there are some recipes I want to try. Brioche: put in ALL THE EGGS and then some flour. Kalouga: heat up sugar and butter. Puree of artichoke which sounds like a pain in the ass, but she even say that it's worth the pain in the ass. Many recipes were fine until they mentioned an ingredient I'm not prepared to use. Most of the chicken recipes say you should cover the bird in back fat of pork which sounds like the best idea ever but I have high cholesterol. Then there are the ones that use linen bags of herbs and other things that I just can't be bothered to do. And I don't like cooking with wine. They had a good life. I'm sorry that her life ended with her penniless and alone. That seems sad. The introduction to this book by M.F.K. Fisher is INSUFFERABLE. She basically says, "I never met her, but I'll bet she was like this..." And calls her ugly (which, even if she was, is that the best way to introduce her cookbook?). I had forgotten just how blind Fisher could be, how condescending and tactless. Skip that.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    First, ignore the snarky introduction by M.F.K. Fisher, who calls Toklas ugly among other things. Not cool and untrue. This really is a cookbook, laden with recipes. Be warned. Toklas' writing of her recipes is idiosyncratic, to say the least, totally unlike the neat rows of ingredients and processes we are so used to. Most of the recipes themselves are heavy and hearty, and labour intensive, also not what we're used to. Toklas and Stein frequently had cook/housekeepers to do much of the cooking First, ignore the snarky introduction by M.F.K. Fisher, who calls Toklas ugly among other things. Not cool and untrue. This really is a cookbook, laden with recipes. Be warned. Toklas' writing of her recipes is idiosyncratic, to say the least, totally unlike the neat rows of ingredients and processes we are so used to. Most of the recipes themselves are heavy and hearty, and labour intensive, also not what we're used to. Toklas and Stein frequently had cook/housekeepers to do much of the cooking so this was not such a problem for them. Still, there are some lighter, easier dishes one might attempt, as well as some desserts and baking that wouldn't be too hard. The memoir part of the book borders on the vague. Toklas was very circumspect, doesn't name names, except when attached to recipes when she was given them by friends. She says little about Gertrude Stein, who she always calls Gertrude Stein, even though they were lifelong partners. But her memories of both World Wars are fascinating, and her advice on cooking and gardening is very practical. I enjoyed this book, and plan one day to at least attempt some of the recipes,

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bookaholic

    Cartea de bucate scrisă de Alice B. Toklas este ultima raritate pe care am pus mîna, după ce am tot vînat-o, vreo doi-trei ani. Nu am vrut s-o comand online, am zis să văd dacă apare pe vreun raft. Şi a apărut: un singur exemplar, într-o librărie mică, genul de loc unde îmi şi închipuiam, de fapt, c-o să dau peste ea. Ştim că în celebrul cuplu Alice-Gertrude Stein, Alice era cea care gătea. Gătea, nu se juca. Asta pe lîngă multe alte lucruri la care se pricepea foarte bine, inteligentă şi spirt c Cartea de bucate scrisă de Alice B. Toklas este ultima raritate pe care am pus mîna, după ce am tot vînat-o, vreo doi-trei ani. Nu am vrut s-o comand online, am zis să văd dacă apare pe vreun raft. Şi a apărut: un singur exemplar, într-o librărie mică, genul de loc unde îmi şi închipuiam, de fapt, c-o să dau peste ea. Ştim că în celebrul cuplu Alice-Gertrude Stein, Alice era cea care gătea. Gătea, nu se juca. Asta pe lîngă multe alte lucruri la care se pricepea foarte bine, inteligentă şi spirt cum era. După ce Gertrude a murit, lui Alice i s-a propus să-şi scrie memoriile, lucru pe care l-a refuzat, argumentînd că Gertrude se ocupase deja de treaba asta, în Autobiografia lui Alice B. Taklas (trad. Florica Sincu, Editura Humanitas). „Alice, talk less!“, gluma pe care tovarăşa ei de-o viaţă i-o tot administra din cînd în cînd, a lucrat, din nenorocire, am spune unii dintre noi, aşa că Alice a refuzat să vorbească direct despre viaţa lor. Ce a acceptat în schimb să facă a fost să scrie partea ei de poveste printr-un filtru pe care îl stăpînea perfect, anume arta gătitului. (continuarea cronicii: http://bookaholic.ro/the-alice-b-tokl...)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Coral

    "Cook-books have always intrigued and seduced me. When I was still a dilettante in the kitchen they held my attention, even the dull ones, from cover to cover, the way crime and murder stories did Gertrude Stein." More a memoir of her life with Gertrude Stein with recipes thrown in, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook is filled with stories of their life in France. Famous friends, including Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald, are sprinkled throughout. Since it's written more like a memoir, and is very conv "Cook-books have always intrigued and seduced me. When I was still a dilettante in the kitchen they held my attention, even the dull ones, from cover to cover, the way crime and murder stories did Gertrude Stein." More a memoir of her life with Gertrude Stein with recipes thrown in, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook is filled with stories of their life in France. Famous friends, including Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald, are sprinkled throughout. Since it's written more like a memoir, and is very conversational in tone, there are no ingredients lists before the recipes - you'll need to read through them to gather the list. It's French cooking, though, so definitely stock up on some butter and cream before diving in!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Scott

    What a fun romp ! I read the book straight through following the culinary adventures of Alice B Toklas and Gertrude Stein. I laughed at Alice's unexpected explanation of her first murder in "Murder in the Kitchen" and about Aunt Pauline and Lady Godiva. Some of the recipes puzzled me with their combination of ingredients and other's, especially the story behind and the recipe for The Macon Cake, almost had me going to the store to start my own experiment. I did resist though. When I see a 3 poun What a fun romp ! I read the book straight through following the culinary adventures of Alice B Toklas and Gertrude Stein. I laughed at Alice's unexpected explanation of her first murder in "Murder in the Kitchen" and about Aunt Pauline and Lady Godiva. Some of the recipes puzzled me with their combination of ingredients and other's, especially the story behind and the recipe for The Macon Cake, almost had me going to the store to start my own experiment. I did resist though. When I see a 3 pound roll of butter made in this area, I will always remember the antidote of a man who didn't really know what butter was.

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