Alice B. Toklas (left) with Gertrude Stein
Today is the birthday of Alice B. Toklas (1877 – 1967).
Toklas was the longtime companion (read lesbian lover) of American writer Gertrude Stein and writer of a cookbook (first published in 1954) that included one famous (nay, notorious) recipe for brownies (or as Alice called it, “hashish fudge”).
I included the recipe below.
But first a little bit about Alice B. Toklas.
Apparently Toklas met Gertrude Stein in Paris on September 8, 1907 on the first day that she arrived. Together they hosted a salon at 27, rue de Fleures in the 6th Arrondissement (on the left bank) that attracted expatriate American writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, Paul Bowles, Thornton Wilder, and Sherwood Anderson and avant-garde painters, including Picasso, Matisse and Braque.
Your humble blogger made his way to 27, rue de Fleurus recently. Sadly I was 80 years too late for the salon.
Your humble blogger at 27, rue de Fleurus, Paris.
Acting as Stein’s confidante, lover, cook, secretary, muse, editor, critic, and general organizer, Toklas remained a background figure, chiefly living in the shadow of Stein, until Stein published her memoirs in 1933 under the teasing title The Autobiography of Alice. B Toklas. It became Stein’s bestselling book. The two were a couple until Gertrude Stein’s death in 1946.
Apparently Stein’s work was incoherent (even more so) before Toklas’ editing.
Alice and Stein are now buried together inin Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. They also share a tombstone with Gertrude Stein’s name on the front and Alice B. Toklas’ on the back.
Alice B. Toklas grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
Now back to that recipe.
(But first allow me to predicate this by reminding you that The Gay Groom does not advocate the use of hashish or any sort of mind altering drug (except caffeine, of course). And do remember that your humble blogger is also a teetotaler who doesn’t even partake in alcohol.
I submit the recipe only as a historic curiosity.
But there was that time back in the mid 90s in the red light district of Amsterdam that I saw Alice’s recipe on a menu… however like all my Amsterdam files, they are now closed.)
And now, as your humble blogger promised, here is an excerpt from The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book and the infamous recipe for Alice’s fudge (“which”, Alice noted, “anyone could whip up on a rainy day”):
Alice B. Toklas Hashish Fudge
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. In Morocco it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of hot mint tea. 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 the ravished by “un évanouissement reveillé”.
Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 whole nutmeg
4 average sticks of cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander
These should all be pulverized in a mortar.
About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together.
A bunch of Cannabis sativa can be pulverized. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together.
About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.
Obtaining the Cannabis may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as Cannabis sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognized, everywhere in Europe, Asia and part of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope.
In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called Cannabis indica, has been observed even in city window boxes. It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.
So there you have it, dear readers. And please do remember that Alice stresses the point that “two pieces are quite sufficient”.
Jeffrey, The Gay Groom