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TOKLAS, Alice B.

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book.

Illustrations by Sir Francis Rose.

New York, Harper & Brothers, 1954 Stock Code: 133986
£450.00
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Notes

First US edition, first printing, of one of the best-selling cookbooks of all time. Weaving together traditional French recipes and entertaining anecdotes of Toklas's life with Gertrude Stein in Paris, The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book is considered the counterpart to Stein's Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) which had catapulted Toklas to fame.
Harper, the New York publisher, approached Toklas in 1952 to persuade her to write something that would offer insight into her and Stein's relationship and the celebrated Paris salon that they had hosted. Despite her initial reluctance, Toklas signed a contract to write a book that was part memoir, part cookbook, and which paired food and cooking - one of Toklas's favourite pastimes - with the exciting people and events that had populated her life. Struggling for material and up against the deadline, she also solicited recipes from among her friends to help pad out the work. Those that contributed included Dora Maar, Mary Oliver (at the time in her late teens), Pierre Balmain, Natalie Clifford Barney, Carl Van Vechten, Joseph Delteil, and the chef of the Algonquin Hotel in New York. Brion Gysin, in Morocco at the time, jokingly responded with his variation on the Moroccan confection majoun, recommending it as the perfect refreshment for a ladies' bridge club or a Daughters of the American Revolution meeting. He introduced his "Hashich Fudge" recipe thus: "This is the food of Paradise Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one's personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by 'un évanouissement reveillé'" (p. 259).
The first UK edition, published two days earlier than the US, was notorious for its inclusion of this recipe, which was expurgated from the American edition. In an interview to Pacifica Radio in 1963 Toklas explained that Gysin's recipe was "innocently included without my realising that the hashish was the accented part of the recipe, and then I was shocked to find that America wouldn't accept it, because it was too dangerous It never went into the American edition. The English are braver. We're not courageous about that sort of thing". Despite Harper refusing to printing it, embroiled as they were in enquiries over the legality of publishing such a recipe, its inclusion in the UK edition prompted a huge reaction, and Toklas's friend Thornton Wilder was said to have called it "the best publicity stunt of the year". It was eventually published in America in the second edition of the early 1960s.

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Description

Octavo. Original orange cloth, green cloth backstrip, spine lettered and decorated in gilt and orange, pictorial endpapers. With the dust jacket, price-clipped.

Illustrations

Frontispiece portrait, chapter vignettes, and full-page black and white line illustrations to the text by Sir Francis Rose.

Condition

Bookseller's ticket, Clarence W. Smith, Inc. of Rochester, New York, to rear pastedown. A fine copy, spine ends barely rubbed and bruised, in the very good jacket, browned and chipped with some closed tears at joints, spine lettering faded.

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