Category Archives: writers

Happy Birthday Alice B. Toklas! Pass the Hashish Brownies

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

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Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth II (Remember Me?)

queen-elizabeth-88th-birthday

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth by renowned British photographer David Bailey was unveiled today to mark the monarch’s 88th birthday.

Today is Queen Elizabeth II’s 88th birthday.

Now, I’ve never been much of a monarchist.  I mean your humble blogger had always thought the Queen was a nice lady and all, but as Christopher Hitchens (quoting Thomas Paine) wrote in his latest Slate piece:

A hereditary monarch is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary doctor or mathematician.

But one July a few years ago the Queen flew once again across the pond to The Dominion of Canada (as she does every decade or so) for a few days.  On her trip (which would coincide with the national holiday, Canada Day),  she was scheduled to stay a few days in Toronto and on July 6, 2010, which was her last day in Toronto (before she packed up her purses and hats and the jetted off to Washington DC for a short visit), she did her final walk-about at the Ontario Legislature, (the fittingly named) Queen’s Park.

The video I took of your humble blogger meeting the queen:

And since Liz was (even at that time) a rather ancient 84 years old (and since Queen’s Park is just down the road from my home), I thought that this could possibly be the very last time that I would have the opportunity to see royalty (and who the hell would want to see ‘King’ Charles and his fiend-like queen on their first trip to Canada after Queen Elizabeth heads off to that big fox hunt in the sky).

But even thought your humble blogger thinks the royals are mostly a bunch of inbred morons, he put on his Husband’s Queen’s Law t-shirt (to make Her Majesty feel at home) and headed over to Queen’s Park about an hour before she was scheduled to show up.

By the way, we name a lot of things “Queen’s —–” up here in Canada.

Queen’s Park had been sectioned off when I arrived.  The closest section of lawn was already filled with people and closed off, so I parked myself on the second driveway behind a security fence.  I really didn’t think that the Queen would walk all the over to me (she was 84 years old), but I did think that if I was able to get a photo (with my zoom lens) of her from across the lawn, at least I would be able to say I saw her (and upload it on Facebook).

Finally she emerged from the Legislative building and walked down the first driveway as I expected… but then she turned the corner and approached me…

These are my photos:

I have to say my photos turned out pretty good!

You can see more photos here: Photos: When the Queen met Jeffrey

And the Queen looked lovely in her light green and pink dress (I would be a tad perturbed later when I would see her wearing her ‘Canada dress’ again when meeting some potentate in Africa in the fall).

A couple of these photos I captured from a video that someone standing behind me took (the blurry ones).  In those photo you can see your humble blogger in a gray t-shirt with his hand up in the air holding my camera.

A woman standing beside me had put up a sign on the fence that read “I’m Autumn’s cousin” (Autumn Patricia Phillips (née Kelly; born 3 May 1978) is the Canadian wife of Peter Phillips, the son of the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne).  That is why the Queen came over to chat.

As well, you can actually see me taking this video and meeting the Queen in another YouTube video taken by a guy behind me.   Again, I’m the chap in the grey t-shirt with his arm up trying to get a good shot until the Queen strolls by.

You can see me and the Queen (taken from behind) here:  YouTube Video: When the Queen met Jeffrey II.

So a happy 88th birthday to Queen Elizabeth II.   May you have many many more (if only to piss off Charles and his fiend-like queen).

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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Kiss Me, I’m 37.5% Irish!!

Your humble blogger is 3/8 Irish.

Finding out that I was Irish (even 37.5% Irish) actually came as quite a surprise to me.  It wasn’t until I was well in my 30s that we learned of my Irish background.  It was after my family (being the nosy bunch they are) had sent away for the military records of my maternal grandfather who (as it turns out) was from Dublin, Ireland.

Now it wasn’t that my grandfather was secretive of his county of origin, instead he was a chronic alcoholic who ran off when my mother was only five years old.  So we knew very little about him.  That was until his military records shone some light on the bum.    In fact, what we learned from the military records of both my maternal and paternal grandparents are worth a blog or two themselves.

But I digress.

Learning that I was Irish was actually rather exciting to me.  Being a writer, I felt a greater kinship with all those great Irish writers:  James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift (and the poets) William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney.  Suddenly I understood the Circe episode in Joyce’s Ulysses (well, maybe 3/8 of it).

But looking back, I really should have known I was Irish all along.  After all, green is my favourite colour.  And I always liked potatoes, George Clooney and Irish whiskey… and I loved those old Shamrock Shakes they used to have at McDonalds.

McDonald’s Shamrock Shake

However, it turned out that my paternal Irish grandfather was also a member of The Church of England (protestant), or so his enlistment form for the WWII stated.  So the question arises:  Does an atheist like myself who was descended from a protestant Irishman celebrate the Catholic St. Patrick’s Day?

Sure he does!

In fact, I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day before I even knew I was Irish.  This may surprise you but before your humble blogger gave up the juice about a decade ago, he drank more green beer than he’d really like mention.

Let’s just say it was more than a couple of pitchers in my day.

Though Guinness always tasted to me like a beer that someone had stuck a cigarette butt in.  Not my thing.  But as I said, I’m only 3/8 Irish.  Perhaps it takes a bit more to appreciate the stuff.

I’m digressing again.

And then The Gay Groom married the Husband who (incidentally) is named Sean Patrick.

And when you are married to someone named Sean Patrick, celebrating St. Patrick’s day is kind of a given.  It is now an annual event to watch to the  parade wind down Yonge Street in Toronto the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day to see the Husband’s ‘clan’ go march by.

I don’t have a clan.

And did you know that (like Santa Claus in a Christmas parade) it is Saint Patrick himself that ends the St. Patrick’s Day parade?  I thought the Husband was joking when he told me that.   They find some poor old guy to dress up in green like an Irish pope to close the parade.  But Saint Patrick isn’t what you’d call jolly like Old Saint Nick.

In fact, he’s sort of creepy.

Maybe it’s his dress.  Or those little white gloves my mother wore in 1962.  Or perhaps it’s the enormous cross on his chest (never a good sign).   It rather looked like Saint Patrick just wanted the parade over with so he could get off his throne and go for a green beer himself.

St. Patrick bringing up the rear in Toronto’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 13, 2011

So whether you are Irish or not (0r some fraction like your humble blogger), have yourself a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!  And remember: if you start peeing green, you’ve had enough green beer.

Erin go Bragh!!!

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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Happy Birthday Alice B. Toklas! Pass the Hash Brownies.

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

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Kiss Me, I’m 37.5% Irish!!

Your humble blogger is 3/8 Irish.

Finding out that I was Irish (even 37.5% Irish) actually came as quite a surprise to me.  It wasn’t until I was well in my 30s that we learned of my Irish background.  It was after my family (being the nosy bunch they are) had sent away for the military records of my maternal grandfather who (as it turns out) was from Dublin, Ireland.

Now it wasn’t that my grandfather was secretive of his county of origin, instead he was a chronic alcoholic who ran off when my mother was only five years old.  So we knew very little about him.  That was until his military records shone some light on the bum.    In fact, what we learned from the military records of both my maternal and paternal grandparents are worth a blog or two themselves.

But I digress.

Learning that I was Irish was actually rather exciting to me.  Being a writer, I felt a greater kinship with all those great Irish writers:  James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift (and the poets) William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney.  Suddenly I understood the Circe episode in Joyce’s Ulysses (well, maybe 3/8 of it).

But looking back, I really should have known I was Irish all along.  After all, green is my favourite colour.  And I always liked potatoes, George Clooney and Irish whiskey… and I loved those old Shamrock Shakes they used to have at McDonalds.

McDonald’s Shamrock Shake

However, it turned out that my paternal Irish grandfather was also a member of The Church of England (protestant), or so his enlistment form for the WWII stated.  So the question arises:  Does an atheist like myself who was descended from a protestant Irishman celebrate the Catholic St. Patrick’s Day?

Sure he does!

In fact, I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day before I even knew I was Irish.  This may surprise you but before your humble blogger gave up the juice about a decade ago, he drank more green beer than he’d really like mention.

Let’s just say it was more than a couple of pitchers in my day.

Though Guinness always tasted to me like a beer that someone had stuck a cigarette butt in.  Not my thing.  But as I said, I’m only 3/8 Irish.  Perhaps it takes a bit more to appreciate the stuff.

I’m digressing again.

And then The Gay Groom married the Husband who (incidentally) is named Sean Patrick.

And when you are married to someone named Sean Patrick, celebrating St. Patrick’s day is kind of a given.  It is now an annual event to watch to the  parade wind down Yonge Street in Toronto the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day to see the Husband’s ‘clan’ go march by.

I don’t have a clan.

And did you know that (like Santa Claus in a Christmas parade) it is Saint Patrick himself that ends the St. Patrick’s Day parade?  I thought the Husband was joking when he told me that.   They find some poor old guy to dress up in green like an Irish pope to close the parade.  But Saint Patrick isn’t what you’d call jolly like Old Saint Nick.

In fact, he’s sort of creepy.

Maybe it’s his dress.  Or those little white gloves my mother wore in 1962.  Or perhaps it’s the enormous cross on his chest (never a good sign).   It rather looked like Saint Patrick just wanted the parade over with so he could get off his throne and go for a green beer himself.

St. Patrick bringing up the rear in Toronto’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 13, 2011

So whether you are Irish or not (0r some fraction like your humble blogger), have yourself a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!  And remember: if you start peeing green, you’ve had enough green beer.

Erin go Bragh!!!

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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Let’s Talk Grindr

This week Paris Hilton made headlines when she said gays were ‘disgusting’ for using the iPhone app Grindr.

Most surprising in the whole affair was that anyone still cared what the aging talentless socialite who seems slightly retarded thinks.

But apparently some do.

So now you may be asking yourself, “what is this Grindr thing?”

Well please allow Your Humble Blogger to fill you in.  Grindr is an app that… well let me quote their own webpage:

“The go-to place for gay, bi, and curious guys to meet, the location-based Grindr is free, fast, and fun. It uses GPS technology in your iPhone or BlackBerry and Wi-Fi in your iPod touch or iPad to determine your exact location and instantly connect you with guys in your area. Simply launch Grindr to see local guys (the closest appear first) and view pictures, stats, and map locations at a tap. It’s that easy. So come on, see who’s available on Grindr.”

Now your humble blogger has been attached for about two or three hundred years now.  No, I’m kidding… I’ve only been with The Husband about a hundred years.

But I have heard from my friends that couples (both straight and gay) are now meeting on the internet (Match dot com, Lifemates etc.).  Thus, it seems to your humble blogger that Grindr is just the logical next step for gay guys to meet new friends for friendship, dating or both.  And though I met my Husband the old fashioned way (he picked me up in a gay bar), I think Grindr and apps like it are actually a good thing.

As E.M. Forster said: “Only connect”.

Intrigued (and for the purposes of investigation for The Gay Groom blog), I created a profile on Grindr (with the full and written consent of The Husband) but, as it turned out, no one sent me a message.  Perhaps it was because I had used my wedding photo in my profile?  Or maybe because I said I was “happily married and just looking about material for my blog”.  But for whatever reason, I was unpopular (it was rather like high school all over again).

There is also an app that is like Grindr but is for the more bearish in the gay community called Scruff.

It works basically the same way as Gridr but has a few more ‘fun’ features like the ability to ‘woof’ (rather like the Facebook poke) at other members and there is also a tool, ‘Would you meet…” where you can say no, maybe or yes.  If you both say ‘yes’ to meeting, then the Scruff app will let you know.

Actually, I was never woofed at on Scruff either.

And since your humble blogger (being not only married but also apparently quite unpopular) could not get any practical experience with either Grindr or Scruff, he must rely on his wonderful readers.

So tell me, have you met anybody on Gridr or Scruff? Was it a good experience?  Would you use it again to meet ‘friends’?  Are they any other apps for gay men out there you would suggest?

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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Breathless

Inhale.

What do writers Marcel Proust, John Updike, Ann Radcliffe, Edith Wharton, Dylan Thomas, Samuel Johnson, Djuna Barnes, Elizabeth Bishop and your humble blogger all have in common?

We all had sex with Gore Vidal.

No, that’s not true.  Gore Vidal did not have sex with Samuel Johnson.

The truth is we are all afflicted with asthma.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition, in which the airways may unexpectedly and suddenly narrow, often in response to an allergen, cold air, exercise, or emotional stress (in my case all four).  Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

Asthma is rather like knowing that at any moment a boa constrictor could wrap itself around your chest and squeeze.

That’s a good if well-worn (and dare I say homoerotic?) analogy.

An acute asthma attack is terrifying.  An excellent first person account of how horrific an asthma attack can be is found in John Updike’s memoir, Self-Consciousness.   Updike writes:

“An asthma attack feels like two walls drawn closer and closer, until they are pressed together… I thought, This is the last thing I’ll see.  This is death.  The breathless blackness within me was overlaying the visual world.”

An excellent description.

I’ve also tried to write of the horror of the asthma attack.   From my novel, Shirts and Skins:

The first attack happened at night.   It had seized Josh by the throat from out of the darkness, strangling him.  He woke up gasping for air.  I can’t breathe.  Arching his back with his stomach in the air, the boy strained to inhale and a sickening wheezing sound emerged from deep inside him.  His eyes bulged.  The room was dark, except for the glowing orange numbers on the clock radio beside his bed.  1:33.   Pushing himself up on his elbows, Josh gagged and coughed something thick and wet onto the front of his flannel pajama shirt.  His throat opened slightly and he sucked a small amount of air into his lungs murky caverns.  Terrified, Josh tried to call out to his parents sleeping down the hall, but could only choke out another loud wheezing gasp.  His legs kicked out wildly over the faded brown horses printed on his bed sheets until one foot connected hard with the wall beside his bed.  In the living room, on the other side of the wall, something fell with a thud and shattered with the tinkle of a thousand jagged shards onto the hardwood floor.

And does asthma affect the writer’s work?

Some interesting study has recently been done specifically on the asthmatic writer.  Two such writers, Marcel Proust and Elizabeth Bishop, have recently had their work re-examined through their asthmatic symptoms.  In Proust’s case, researchers have at their disposal a large amount of correspondence that details his respiratory illness and treatments.  Relying on such comprehensive information concerning Proust’s health, investigators have attempted to relate Proust’s fiction back to his respiratory illness.  One such example, “Proust’s Prescription: Sickness as the Pre-condition for Writing,” Lois Bragg and William Sayers study how illness, and particularly asthma, manifests as a number of extended similes in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.

And I once gave (if I do say so myself) a brilliant paper in graduate school on Ann Radcliffe, the grande dame of Gothic fiction who died during an acute asthma attack in 1823, theorizing how she transformed the asthmatic symptoms that tormented her through most of her life (breathlessness, sudden violence, tyranny, nocturnal attacks, suffocation, darkness, constriction etc.) into an abundant collection of dark metaphors that became prototypical Gothic images.

(I specialized in Restoration and 18th Century literature.  You can imagine how useful that is in real life.)

Your humble blogger’s own asthma comes and goes. I take medication everyday in an attempt to limit my asthma symptoms.

Luckily I have times of remission (often lasting months) followed by its inevitable (and at times depressing) return. Though, unfortunately, I never have completely normal lung functions even when in remission.

Like anything, you live to learn with it.

And though living with asthma can be trying, with the likes of Proust and Updike as fellow sufferers,  I am in grand company.  Which makes it a little easier.

Exhale.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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Happy Birthday Alice B. Toklas! Pass the Hash Brownies.

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.

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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

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Happy 86th to the Queen! Hey, Remember Me?

Today is Queen Elizabeth II’s 86th birthday.

Now, I’ve never been much of a monarchist.  I mean your humble blogger had always thought the Queen was a nice lady and all, but as the late Christopher Hitchens (quoting Thomas Paine) wrote in his one of his last Slate pieces: 

A hereditary monarch is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary doctor or mathematician.

But last July the Queen flew once again across the pond to The Dominion of Canada (as she does every decade or so) for a few days.  On her trip (which would coincide with the national holiday, Canada Day),  she was scheduled to stay a few days in Toronto and on July 6, 2010, which was her last day in Toronto (before she packed up her purses and hats and the jetted off to Washington DC for a short visit), she did her final walk-about at the Ontario Legislature, (the fittingly named) Queen’s Park.

The video I took of your humble blogger meeting the queen:

And since Liz was (even at that time) a rather ancient 84 years old (and since Queen’s Park is just down the road from my home), I thought that this could possibly be the very last time that I would have the opportunity to see royalty (and who the hell would want to see ‘King’ Charles and his fiend-like queen on their first trip to Canada after Queen Elizabeth heads off to that big fox hunt in the sky).

But even thought your humble blogger thinks the royals are mostly a bunch of inbred morons, he put on his Husband’s Queen’s Law t-shirt (to make Her Majesty feel at home) and headed over to Queen’s Park about an hour before she was scheduled to show up.

By the way, we name a lot of things “Queen’s —–” up here in Canada.

Queen’s Park had been sectioned off when I arrived.  The closest section of lawn was already filled with people and closed off, so I parked myself on the second driveway behind a security fence.  I really didn’t think that the Queen would walk all the over to me (she was 84 years old), but I did think that if I was able to get a photo (with my zoom lens) of her from across the lawn, at least I would be able to say I saw her (and upload it on Facebook).

Finally she emerged from the Legislative building and walked down the first driveway as I expected… but then she turned the corner and approached me…

These are my photos:

I have to say my photos turned out pretty good!

You can see more photos here: Photos: When the Queen met Jeffrey

And the Queen looked lovely in her light green and pink dress (I would be a tad perturbed later when I would see her wearing her ‘Canada dress’ again when meeting some potentate in Africa in the fall).

A couple of these photos I captured from a video that someone standing behind me took (the blurry ones).  In those photo you can see your humble blogger in a gray t-shirt with his hand up in the air holding my camera.

A woman standing beside me had put up a sign on the fence that read “I’m Autumn’s cousin” (Autumn Patricia Phillips (née Kelly; born 3 May 1978) is the Canadian wife of Peter Phillips, the son of the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne).  That is why the Queen came over to chat.

As well, you can actually see me taking this video and meeting the Queen in another YouTube video taken by a guy behind me.   Again, I’m the chap in the grey t-shirt with his arm up trying to get a good shot until the Queen strolls by.

You can see me and the Queen (taken from behind) here:  YouTube Video: When the Queen met Jeffrey II.

And many of you may have watched the royal wedding of William and Kate last year.  And did your humble blogger get up at 3:00am to watch it?

Only if Robespierre had done the colour commentary.

So a happy 86th birthday to Queen Elizabeth II.   May you have many many more (if only to piss off Charles and his fiend-like queen).

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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Kiss Me, I’m 37.5% Irish!!

Your humble blogger is 3/8 Irish.

Finding out that I was Irish (even 37.5% Irish) actually came as quite a surprise to me.  It wasn’t until I was well in my 30s that we learned of my Irish background.  It was after my family (being the nosy bunch they are) had sent away for the military records of my maternal grandfather who (as it turns out) was from Dublin, Ireland.

Now it wasn’t that my grandfather was secretive of his county of origin, instead he was a chronic alcoholic who ran off when my mother was only five years old.  So we knew very little about him.  That was until his military records shone some light on the bum.    In fact, what we learned from the military records of both my maternal and paternal grandparents are worth a blog or two themselves.

But I digress.

Learning that I was Irish was actually rather exciting to me.  Being a writer, I felt a greater kinship with all those great Irish writers:  James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift (and the poets) William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney.  Suddenly I understood the Circe episode in Joyce’s Ulysses (well, maybe 3/8 of it).

But looking back, I really should have known I was Irish all along.  After all, green is my favourite colour.  And I always liked potatoes, George Clooney and Irish whiskey… and I loved those old Shamrock Shakes they used to have at McDonalds.

McDonald's Shamrock Shake

However, it turned out that my paternal Irish grandfather was also a member of The Church of England (protestant), or so his enlistment form for the WWII stated.  So the question arises:  Does an atheist like myself who was descended from a protestant Irishman celebrate the Catholic St. Patrick’s Day?

Sure he does!

In fact, I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day before I even knew I was Irish.  This may surprise you but before your humble blogger gave up the juice about a decade ago, he drank more green beer than he’d really like mention.

Let’s just say it was more than a couple of pitchers in my day.

Though Guinness always tasted to me like a beer that someone had stuck a cigarette butt in.  Not my thing.  But as I said, I’m only 3/8 Irish.  Perhaps it takes a bit more to appreciate the stuff.

I’m digressing again.

And then The Gay Groom married the Husband who (incidentally) is named Sean Patrick.

And when you are married to someone named Sean Patrick, celebrating St. Patrick’s day is kind of a given.  It is now an annual event to watch to the  parade wind down Yonge Street in Toronto the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day to see the Husband’s ‘clan’ go march by.

I don’t have a clan.

And did you know that (like Santa Claus in a Christmas parade) it is Saint Patrick himself that ends the St. Patrick’s Day parade?  I thought the Husband was joking when he told me that.   They find some poor old guy to dress up in green like an Irish pope to close the parade.  But Saint Patrick isn’t what you’d call jolly like Old Saint Nick.

In fact, he’s sort of creepy.

Maybe it’s his dress.  Or those little white gloves my mother wore in 1962.  Or perhaps it’s the enormous cross on his chest (never a good sign).   It rather looked like Saint Patrick just wanted the parade over with so he could get off his throne and go for a green beer himself.

St. Patrick bringing up the rear in Toronto's St. Patrick's Day Parade, March 13, 2011

So whether you are Irish or not (0r some fraction like your humble blogger), have yourself a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!  And remember: if you start peeing green, you’ve had enough green beer.

Erin go Bragh!!!

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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