Gertrude Stein made her long-time companion Alice famous through her 1933 “memoir,” The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Toklas (1877-1967) was surely Stein’s editor, lover, and general factotum, but she was also accomplished in the kitchen and thus the household cook. In later years, she was to publish two cookbooks: The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (1954), much celebrated for its “haschich fudge” recipe, and the lesser-known Aromas and Flavours of Past and Present (1958), which is offered here.
The book is a strange amalgam, with a long introduction and “comments” by the American magazine editor Poppy Cannon. Within the recipes, Toklas’ voice is present (“It is my personal feeling that cucumbers should not be cooked in or with butter, but with sour cream in the Turkish manner”). The headnotes, however, are in the third person (“Alice Toklas says, ‘I don’t remember who taught me that trick, but it is worth remembering’).’’ This leaves the general impression that some of the actual writing may be Cannon’s, but the ideas themselves appear to be right out of the Stein/Toklas household.
Among them we find such varied dishes as green mashed potatoes, artichokes Catherine de Medici, “Your Own Noodles with Buttered Crumbs”, and ice cream of the Hesperides (made with crystallized orange peel and white curacao). An excellent addition to a literarily inclined collection.
This copy is the British first edition, published in 1959. Bound in full cloth, red with black panels on the spine and stamped in gold, it is a sound, Very Good volume, clean and unmarked. The dust jacket is also Very Good, with a small closed tear at the top edge and a darkened spine. Chipping on the spine and a very small amount on the back panel as well. A good-looking copy.