Alice B. Toklas Reads Her Famous Recipe for Hashish Fudge (1963)

toklas cookbook

Alice Babette Tok­las met Gertrude Stein in 1907, the day she arrived in Paris. They remained togeth­er for 39 years until Stein’s death in 1946. While Stein became the cen­ter of the avant-garde art world, host­ing an exclu­sive salon that wel­comed the likes of Ernest Hem­ing­way, Pablo Picas­so, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzger­ald, Tok­las large­ly pre­ferred to stay in Stein’s shad­ow, serv­ing as her sec­re­tary, edi­tor and assis­tant.

That changed in 1933 when Stein wrote The Auto­bi­og­ra­phy of Alice B. Tok­las – a retelling of the couple’s life togeth­er with Tok­las serv­ing as nar­ra­tor. The book is Stein’s most acces­si­ble and best-sell­ing work. It also turned the shy, self-effac­ing Tok­las into a lit­er­ary fig­ure.

After Stein’s death, Tok­las pub­lished The Alice B. Tok­las Cook­book in 1954, which com­bined per­son­al rec­ol­lec­tions of her time with Stein along with recipes and mus­ings about French cui­sine. Yet it wasn’t her sto­ries about tend­ing to the wound­ed dur­ing WWI or her opin­ions on mus­sels that made the book famous. Instead, it was the inclu­sion of a recipe giv­en to her by Moroc­can-based artist Brion Gysin called “Hashish Fudge.”

In this 1963 record­ing from Paci­fi­ca Radio, Tok­las reads her noto­ri­ous recipe. The snack “might pro­vide an enter­tain­ing refresh­ment for a Ladies’ Bridge Club or a chap­ter meet­ing of the DAR,” Tok­las notes in her reedy, dig­ni­fied voice. Then she gets on to the recipe itself:

Take one tea­spoon black pep­per­corns, one whole nut­meg, four aver­age sticks of cin­na­mon, one 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.

Tok­las con­cedes that get­ting the key ingre­di­ent “can present cer­tain dif­fi­cul­ties” and rec­om­mends find­ing the stuff in the wild, which might have been pos­si­ble to do in the ear­ly 1960s. Nowa­days, the best course of action is to move to Wash­ing­ton, Col­orado or Uruguay.

In the record­ing, Tok­las then goes on to recall how hashish fudge came to be includ­ed into her book.

“The recipe was inno­cent­ly includ­ed with­out my real­iz­ing that the hashish was the accent­ed part of the recipe,” she says with­out a trace of face­tious­ness. “I was shocked to find that Amer­i­ca wouldn’t accept it because it was too dan­ger­ous.”

“It nev­er went into the Amer­i­can edi­tion,” she says. “The Eng­lish are braver. We’re not coura­geous about that sort of thing.”

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in Jan­u­ary 2014.

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Gertrude Stein Gets a Snarky Rejec­tion Let­ter from Pub­lish­er (1912)

Hear Gertrude Stein Read Works Inspired by Matisse, Picas­so, and T.S. Eliot (1934)

Gertrude Stein Recites ‘If I Told Him: A Com­plet­ed Por­trait of Picas­so’

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