The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

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The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook
Toklas cookbook cover.jpg
Author Alice B. Toklas
Publication date
1954
ISBN 978-1-897959-19-0

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, first published in 1954, is one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time. Written by Alice B. Toklas, writer Gertrude Stein's life partner, Toklas wrote this book as a favor to Random House to make up for her unwillingness at the time to write her memoirs, in deference to Stein's 1933 book about her, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

This work is as much of an autobiography as it is a cookbook, in that it contains as many personal recollections as it does recipes. The most famous culinary experiment contained therein is a concoction called Hashish Fudge. Made from spices, nuts, fruit, and Cannabis, Hashish Fudge quickly became a sensation in its own right. In the recipe, Alice described how it is called "the food of paradise" and goes on to suggest places where the cook might find the illegal ingredient named in its title. She stated that this was something that can liven up any gathering and is "easy to whip up on a rainy day." She cautions two pieces of it are quite enough and that one should be prepared for hysterical fits of laughter and wild floods of thoughts on "many simultaneous planes."

Although later Toklas said that this recipe was given to her by a friend named Brion Gysin, her name is forever linked with marijuana brownies due to its great success. Particularly in the late 1960s, Toklas' brownies were referenced. For example, in the 1968 Peter Sellers movie I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, Toklas' cannabis brownies play a significant role in the plot. In a 1969 episode of the ABC-TV variety show Hollywood Palace hosted by Diana Ross & The Supremes, member Mary Wilson tells Diana that show guest and comedian Soupy Sales has asked The Supremes to bake him a pie, to which Diana Ross replies to her group mates: "A pie, huh? Well, you better not use the recipe you got from Alice B. Toklas"! Also in 1969, an episode of "Bewitched" called "Tabitha's Weekend", Endora (Agnes Moorehead) makes a joke about eating Mother Stephens' (Mabel Albertson) raisin cookies when Tabitha asks if "Grandmama" would like one too. When offered one, Endora says "They're not by chance from an Alice B. Toklas recipe?" Mrs. Stephens says, "They're my recipe." To which Endora says "Then I think I'll pass."