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The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book Paperback – August 10, 2010

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Editorial Reviews Review

First published in 1954, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook is one of America's great works of recollection, culinary and otherwise. Toklas lived, cooked, and kept house in Paris and rural France with her companion, Gertrude Stein, from 1908 until Stein's death in 1947. During that time she cooked for and shared food with friends, including Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Thornton Wilder, accumulating recipes for the simple and haute bourgeois dishes compiled in the book. She also saw and remembered all, from life in the high bohemian circle she and Stein occupied; to France during two world wars; to the United States, visited in the '30s; to summers passed in a paradisiacal country retreat at Biligin in France. These and more Toklas depicts vividly and acerbically, all viewed through the prism of food and good eating.

Woven within chapters such as "Dishes for Artists," "Food in French Homes," and "The Vegetable Gardens at Biligin," the 300 recipes run the gamut from hors d'oeuvres and salads to breads, entrées, drinks, and sweets. Original (and sometimes whimsical) dishes like Stuffed Artichokes Stravinsky, Gigot de la Clinque, and Bavarian Cream Perfect Love appear among more traditional offerings, such as Boeuf Bourguignon, Chicken à l'Estargon, and Green Peas à la Goodwife. Many of the recipes (which are written in abbreviated-narrative style) will be attempted only by adventurous cooks with time (and, in some cases, money) to spare. The rest of us will enjoy reading the recipes, the droll reminiscences, and the fantasizing about a time when the dishes' creation could be relatively commonplace. The tour of this era and its food, by one of literature's great cook-writers, is obligatory reading. --Arthur Boehm --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Alice was one of the really great cooks of all time.... The secret of her talent was great pains and a remarkable palate.” (James Beard)

“A book of character, fine food, and tasty human observation.” (The New Yorker)

“It will be the fiercest Francophobe who can read Alice’s recipes and not hanker for a taste, the dullest cook who will not want to get to the kitchen and try them out.” (Time)

“A cookbook that is delightful by way of its fine food has been made doubly pleasurable by the addition of shrewd worldly comment, by reminiscences, personalities, anecdotes, by the strong characters of the Misses Stein and Toklas.” (New York Herald Tribune)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061995363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061995361
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jane Avriette on July 14, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ive been cooking with _Joy of Cooking_ for a long time now. _Joy_ makes reference to a chapter in this book, "Murder in the Kitchen," as a sort of primer on how to 'murder' a carp in the kitchen before cooking. I decided, on a whim, to buy the book.
I had no idea that having this new cookbook would be so rewarding!
Alice Toklas has some INCREDIBLE recipes in here (Scheherezade Melon being a favorite!), all of which should be tried and enjoyed.
Furthermore, this book contains recipes you simply wont find in other, newer, cookbooks. My girlfriend really summed this book up by suggesting that the recipes in this book are the recipes you know exist -- but are being passed from grandmother to granddaughter; you simply dont get these unless youre in that circle of people.
This cookbook is your way in to exquisite dishes that were prepared for the likes of Gertrude Stein, Hemmingway, Picasso, and Matisse.
That, and where else are you going to find a recipe for Hashish Fudge?
This book has my whole-hearted, overwhelming approval.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Paris fan on September 15, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
2014 marks the 60th anniversary of this cookbook.

This classic of 20th century food lit appears every few years in new editions and rightfully so. First published in 1954 by Alice B. Toklas, the life partner of Gertrude Stein, established Alice as a writer in her own right and made her world-famous(once again) with her "Haschich Fudge" aka Alice B. Toklas brownies! This recipe, which was not included in the first American edition, but was included in the British edition, does appear in this book. It's more than a cookbook, it's an affectionate remembrance by someone who knew and was known by some of the artistic giants of the 20th century.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By jumpy1 on June 27, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe that this is one of the best French cookbooks of all time. Very old, traditional recipes explained in a way that makes even the more advanced ones seem doable. She also includes recipes from her youth in America and tells how she came across the recipe for Haschich Fudge. The stories interwoven are captivating, especially about the society she and Gertrude Stein kept, and their efforts during WWI as volunteers. In this respect it is a fascinating historical document. It is written as if she is speaking to you, and her speech is very blunt, to the point and quietly humorous. Very enjoyable to read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Patrick W. Crabtree VINE VOICE on June 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
This cookbook was originally published by Michael Joseph, London, 1954, and that is the edition that you want. Why? Because all others have edited out Brion Gysin's (the cookbook spells it "Gysen") hilarious "Haschhich Fudge Recipe" on page 259, ("which anyone could whip up on a rainy day," as Gysin humorously noted.)

There are other reasons for obtaining the original London First Edition -- there is so much history associated with this cookbook. Of course Toklas was the lifelong companion of the often controversial feminist author, Gertrude Stein. Toklas continued to champion her companion's philosophies and writings for 20 years subsequent to Stein's death in 1946. The two resided chiefly in Paris and they weathered two world wars, often living in occupied territory, an actuality which was particularly dangerous for Stein who was Jewish, (Toklas was a Catholic.)

Regarding the history of the cookbook, these two ladies hosted many famous celebrities in their home where they were almost always fed by Toklas who prepared the high end meals in the household when guests were present. These people included Hemingway, Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leonard Bernstein, Virgil Thompson, Carl Van Vechten, and a laundry list of similarly high-profile notables (I once made a count of over 300 of such associations.) Some of the very dishes that these people were fed are found in this cookbook.

If you acquire the London First Edition try to obtain one with its original dust jacket. It was drawn by Sir Francis Rose and Toklas was not particularly pleased with the result as she commented to a friend which can be read in her post-1946 personal correspondence: Staying On Alone.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Gallicano on January 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have toted this little paperback around for about 25 years. The pages are grey and the cover is grimy. But I am reading it again for the joy of it, and again, realize it is one of my favorite books. Alice Toklas writes in the most enthusiastic, humorous and inquisitive prose that a "cookbook" could ever be presented. She writes each chapter as a special creative venture, and the reader learns how to cook all kinds of home-made French meals following her systematic and patient narrative. Her commentary on dining and cooking with the amazing stars of the art and literature world in pre-war Paris is breath taking in its simplicity and familiarity with said egos!

There are many references to certain menus she and Gertrude Stein dined on- from the country cottage farmer's table to haute cuisine. And wherever they dined, Alice was certain to beg for a recipe to take with her. These recipes add a wonderful scrapbook feel which gives you some absolutely perfect hand me down hits.

My book is the British version I believe, and has the hashish brownie recipe. I tried making it back in the '70's however it was pretty grainy since we didn't use the high quality product Alice most likely had access to. The intro to the brownies is hysterical - she advises the reader to make these on a rainy afternoon and serve to the bridge group ladies or the local DAR chapter meeting. Very tongue in cheek.
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