Long before Julia Child discovered French cooking, Alice B. Toklas was sampling local dishes, collecting recipes, and cooking for the writers, artists, and expats who lived in Paris between the wars. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wilder, Matisse, and Picasso shared meals at the home she kept with Gertrude Stein, who famously memorialized her in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.
The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, however, is her true memoir: a collection of traditional French recipes that predates Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Toklas supplies familiar recipes such as coq au vin, bouillabaisse, and boeuf bourguignon, along with what is perhaps the earliest instructions for haschich fudge (“which anyone could whip up on a rainy day"), and she entertains with fascinating memories of Paris—Toklas' home for most of her life—and of rural France, Spain, and America.
"I know now as well as I did thirty years ago that The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book would feed my soul abundantly if I could find no other nourishment, just as it would make me smile in the midst of sadness, and feel braver if I risked faltering."--from the Foreword by M. F. K. Fisher
Alice B. Toklas was Gertrude Stein's "secretary-companion." For many years they lived together in France, Toklas cooking while Stein was writing.