The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book.
Illustrations by Sir Francis Rose.London: Michael Joseph, 1954 Stock Code: 140900
NotesFirst edition, first impression, of one of the best-selling cookbooks of all time, notorious for its inclusion of the "Hashich Fudge" recipe on p. 259 that was given to Toklas by Brion Gysin, and which was expurgated from the US edition, published two days later.
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. 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 it 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). 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.
Octavo. Later light tan half calf, green morocco title label to spine, black cloth sides, top edge green, retaining original decorated endpapers.
Frontispiece portrait, chapter vignettes, and full-page black and white line illustrations to the text by Sir Francis Rose.
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