Alice B. Toklas: The Cultural Icon Behind The Legendary Cookbook Recipes
Toklas’ The Alice B.
Toklas Cook Book paints a vivid snapshot of the Parisian avant garde eating and entertaining habits.
Thanks to her famous salon, attended by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Henri Matisse and F.
Scott Fitzgerald, it was no wonder that her table became renowned for its culinary delights.
Drawing from French tradition, colonial influences and her own Californian roots, diners could truly get an immersive experience into the cuisine of this period – whether it be savory or sweet!
The cook book offers some recipes that can be found towards the end of each section – although this work offers more than just cooking tips; taking readers through Alice’s journey as an expat with free-spirited sensual pleasures such as art, cooking and good company.
From learning the one simple dish you should ask someone to make when interviewing potential kitchen staff to finding out what dish to serve a guest you wish to insult – there is so much more knowledge and insight available here in addition to how they wined and dined during their time in Paris!
The French Value Quality, Tradition, And Respect In The Kitchen
Becoming a gourmet French chef is no easy feat.
To master the cuisine, you must have reverence and respect for tradition as well as an eye for detail.
Every ingredient must be of the highest quality and treated with maximum respect in order to transform it into a culinary masterpiece.
Butter is also key when it comes to French cooking.
Fat can add more flavor and texture- so don’t skimp!
The French use high-quality butter in their dishes and do not accept swaps or substitutes at all.
What’s more, French cooking has traditionally been the domain of women- but men have just as much influence on their country’s cuisine (if not more).
Toklas’ husband Gertrude helped her become a gourmet by giving her constant critical feedback.
This helped her hone her skills and strive for excellence.
At a lunch party that Alice attended, the hostess even took food qualty seriously enough to reject a dish based on its appearance alone!
If you’re determined to become a skilled chef in this style, you’ll need to bring the same level of discernment to your own meals if you want them to meet showstopping standards.
Exploring The Varied And Complex Dish That Is French Bouillabaisse
Toklas’ famous cookbook includes her recipe for the quintessential French dish, Bouillabaisse.
For the perfecting of this time-honoured dish, many ingredients and techniques must be taken into account.
The best fish to use is a combination of red snapper, mullet, pike, durbot, dory and gurnard – which can either be left whole or had their heads removed and cut into one-inch pieces.
One carrot, one onion, one bay leaf and a sprig of thyme should then be boiled in salted water until reduced by half with the heads of the large fishes being mashed finely afterwards.
Boiling one lobster and one crab removes the meat.
The fish bouillon is then added to a mixture consisting of three-quarters cup sliced onions, three crushed shallots, three crushed garlic cloves, half a sweet pepper, one large sliced tomato, four stalks celery; as well as a slice of fennel; thyme; bay leaf; two cloves; salt and pepper all fried together in a pot with half a cup of olive oil over high heat for five minutes.
A quarter teaspoon powdered saffron is then added which has been soaked in five tablespoons of hot broth first before serving over half inch slices of bread with ladles full of hot broth.
Alice acknowledges however that variations on this traditional recipe are possible depending on what’s available to you but warns that it won’t really be a true Bouillabaisse!
Alice B. Toklas: An Artist Among Artists Who Brought Cannabis Edibles To The Table
Toklas had countless interesting guests in her Paris home, including some of the most influential artists and writers of her time.
As such, she was always looking to serve them food that would be noteworthy and memorable.
When Picasso came for lunch one day, Alice decided to make a unique poached fish dish that was sure to impress him.
She coated the fish with mayonnaise and decorated it with tomato paste, sieved egg yolks, and finely chopped green herbs – Picasso was reported to have really enjoyed it.
He also famously said about a spinach soufflé: “Cruel enigma.”
In addition to traditional recipes, Alice also served a dish from Francis Picabia’s recipe – an omelette which calls for 8 eggs cooked over low heat for 30 minutes!
This recipe reportedly results in “a suave consistency that perhaps only gourmets will appreciate.”
Finally, Alice also included a recipe for cannabis edibles (Haschich Fudge) that caused quite a stir in the US when it was published.
It required pulverizing black peppercorns, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg before mixing it with cannabis sativa over chopped dates, dried figs, peanuts and almonds before forming into walnut-size balls with melted butter and sugar.
Consuming two pieces of this fudge with hot mint tea is supposedly enough to induce an ecstatic reverie!
The Unpleasant Necessity Of Killing Animals For Meat During War
Toklas’s book makes it clear that in order to be a conscious carnivore, one must know how to prepare and cook meat dishes properly.
To do this, it is necessary to know the best way to kill animals humanely.
This was something Alice had a hard time coming to terms with at first, as the only way to learn is by doing – from her first experiences gutting and cleaning a carp, carefully executing it with a sharp knife and making sure not to miss any of its organs; or smothering young pigeons for their plumpness and retained blood.
But slowly she realized how important it is for carnivores like her to recognize the value of an animal before consuming them, since these creatures have their own intrinsic value – even if they ultimately end up on the dinner table.
Taking care in the preparation of food means htey will not just taste better but also strengthen our bonds with nature and appreciate its complexity more.
Through her experiences and recipes, Alice hopes that we can all become more mindful meat-eaters who live in harmony with animals instead of taking life lightly.
French Cuisine In The 1920S And 1930S: Learning To Cook From Gertrude Stein And Colonial Cooks
When it comes to finding the perfect kitchen staff, Alice B.
Toklas knew that there was one simple dish that could determine a cook’s skill and readiness to work in her kitchen: omelettes.
As she explained in her famous cookbook, a cook who can prepare omelettes well demonstrates not only a natural intuition for cooking, but also an attention to detail.
Omelettes can be served as simple dishes with mushrooms or herbs, or can be transformed into something more elaborate like soufflés when honoring special guests.
Alice also learned many techniques from cooks from France’s colonized countries – Jeanne, the couple’s satisfactory cook from Martinique taught her how to make an delicious coconut marmalade pie which featured two cups of sugar boiled until thick and then mixed with one and a half cups freshly grated coconut before pouring cream into a pie crust and baking until the top is golden brown.
No matter what the menu, Alice came to recognize the value of the simple yet essential task of making an omelette as an indicator of a skilled cook who could manage her staffed kitchen confidently and deliciously.
Alice And Gertrude Survive The German Occupation Of France Through Ingenuity And Community
Toklas’ Cookbook is not just filled with recipes for delicious food; it also provides clues into how to be a ‘foodie’ even under wartime conditions.
Alice and her partner Gertrude found themselves living in Bugey, France during World War II and needed to be resourceful with their food rations.
One of the most important things they did was embrace the black markets of the day.
Gertrude proved particularly adept at finding eggs, butter, and other luxuries in France’s grey market – proving that when it comes to passionate cooking, you can find a way no matter the limitations.
They also managed to supplement their rationed foods by bartering with neighbors and trading their bread rations for necessary items like butter or coffee – showing just how creative one can be when making do with what they have on-hand.
Alice and Gertrude were even able host soldiers in their home throughout the war and were lucky enough to sometimes receive real tobacco as payment!
No matter what difficult circumstances Alice faced, she always found a way to improvise so that she could create tasty dishes for her guests, proving that if you start with passion (and use your imagination) no cooking obstacle is too big!
The Alice B.
Toklas Cook Book is the perfect cookbook for anyone looking to master the art of French cooking and entertaining.
The key message from this book is that you should treat all ingredients with respect, use seasoning lightly but not shy away from adding fat to enhance flavor.
Her advice for a Parisian-style dinner party is to invite friends, be confident in how you serve them, and approach any challenges with a positive attitude with humor.
Above all else, enjoy such experiences with others and appreciate the complexity of flavors in French cuisine.
Through memorable stories shared by Alice B.
Toklas, readers can gain an appreciation of the history behind her recipes and the culture she grew up in, making this cook book an invaluable tool for those aspiring to become great chefs.