Saturday, 3 October 2009

It’s existential, honey…and it tastes good, too.

 

The picture below is my response to an irresistible challenge initiated by the highly original and accomplished artist, Susan Sanford of Art Spark Theatre fame. Susan’s challenge was to complete her drawing seen here, and then to link back to her site when done. Do whizz over to Art Spark Theatre to see other participant’s entries, or to take up the challenge yourselves!

woman.artspark

 

Alice.cookb

My mother gave me this Penguin edition back in 1978.  Incidentally, it contains a recipe for Hashish Fudge ("obtaining the cannabis may present certain difficulties...").  The cover is a painting by Matisse. 

Originally published in 1954, the Alice B. Toklas Cook Book is a culinary memoir of Stein and Toklas’ life together, from the salon years, hosting the era’s artistic and literary elite in their famous Paris apartment at 27 Rue de Fleurus, through to the years when France was occupied by the Nazis.

Toklas's rich mixture of menus and memories of meals shared with such famous friends as Wilder, Picasso and Hemingway is truly a literary and culinary treasure. I love it, and I’m sure you would too!

Here, with an amusing except from the book, is what I made for supper with friends last night:

Chapter 4 – Murder in the Kitchen

“Many times I held the thought to kill a stupid or obstinate cook, but as long as the thought was held, murder was not committed.  Then a gay and enchanting Austrian came to cook for Gertrude Stein and me.  He was a perfect cook.  Quietly and expeditiously Kasper, as I shall call him, prepared the most intricate and complicated dishes for us, nothing was too much trouble for him to undertake.  He would make us ice cream in individual moulds in the form of eggs on a nest of coloured spun sugar.  He delighted in making cakes that represented objects appropriate to each person;  a book for Gertrude Stein, a rose for Sir Francis Rose, a peacock for a very vain young artist and a little dog for me.  He used to receive the visits of an extremely pretty young girl, Lili, who looked as if she had stepped out of an Offenbach opera.  Gertrude Stein and I were delighted with them……

Gradually Kasper began to confide in me.  Life was not as happy for him has it had been.  In the beginning there was only his fiancé Lili, his angel, but now there was a second, a she-devil, who wanted him to marry her and who was threatening to kill him if he didn’t.  He continued to cook most desirably despite his  torment…..

One afternoon as Gertrude Stein and I were coming home, someone came out of our front door and passed in the courtyard.  She had small snappy dark eyes.  “The devil?”  Gertrude Stein enquired.  “Presumably,” I answered.”

To cut a long and rather pedantic (but very amusing) story short, Kasper continued to see his devil-woman at the same time as wooing Lili, but gradually the deception drove him to drink and “a resultant madness”.   Alice and Gertrude were no longer able enjoy his perfect culinary skills so rather than murdering him, Alice paid him his wages and summarily dismissed him.  The last meal he cooked for them before his alcoholic downfall was the justly famous Gypsy Goulash.  Here, for your edification and delight, is Miss Toklas’ recipe.  (It is truly scrumptious, believe me. You’ll be dancing a wild fandango after eating this!)

GYPSY GOULASH

1 ½ lb. fillet of beef in slices of ¼ inch thickness, cut in lengths of ¼ inch width, brown in lard* with ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon paprika, and 1 tablespoon flour, 4 large onions sliced, ¾ lb. potatoes sliced. When the beef is lightly browned add 2 cups red wine, 1 cup sour cream, and enough bouillon to cover. Put in a covered casserole in 375ْ oven for 1 hour.  Add ½ cup sour cream before serving. Serve with noodles. Serves 4.  (*a little unsalted butter may be better for your heath! T xx)

goulash

A peppery salad of rocket (arugula), baby spinach leaves, baby tomatoes and pine nuts lightly dressed with a squirt of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sea salt, a good drizzle of olive oil and a shave of parmesan goes beautifully with this hearty, soul warming dish.

rocket.salad

28 comments:

Renee said...

Tessa I love this post. Holding your hand, can you feel it.

Love Renee xoxox

Silke said...

Oh, Tessa, you are making me so hungry! And that cookbook sounds like something I must find for our cookbook selection! And I love your airborne Armadillo...

Love, Silke

Reya Mellicker said...

I love this post, everything about it including of course Gertrude Stein with an airborne Armadillo, oh yeah! Perfection.

I forgot about Toklas's cookbook. I might put that on my wish list for the holidays. Fabulous stew, too. Looks like what I made this week.

Here's to unconventional couples and unconventional lifestyles and originality in all ways possible. Cheers!

Herrad said...

Hi Tessa,
Lovely post and thanks for making me aware of Suan at Art Sparkle Theatre, very much enjoyed visiting her blog.
Really enjoyed yours very much, only problem I got abit hungry looking at the photos of you goulash and the salad. yummy.
Guess hash fudge is not too difficult to make, just add hash butter and proceed as usual.
Must get Richie to make me some chocolate hash fudge, hash/weed is good against pain, so thanks for tihe idea of fudge.
Have a great weekend.
Love,
Herrad

ArtSparker said...

Heh, there is a resemblance...Thanks for playing.

The Green Stone Woman said...

I suppose I wouldn't read that book for the recipes, but for the wonderful gossipy tales in between, though I may not know a lot of the people involved, except the bigger names. Although, reading the recipes may be fun too. I could enjoy them vicariously, without actually having to cook them. If there are recipes for cake, I may want to try them, though I'm a lazy cook and living on my own, I would have to eat the whole thing myself.

karen said...

fantastic post, with so many different facets! Loved the Ugandan flavoured one earlier, too...

pink dogwood said...

The books sounds fantastic - will try to find it.

Vivi said...

Your drawing is delightful! So glad I found your blog.

Holly said...

Hey, can you imagine being the sort of person who is always called by both her names? Never Gertrude, never Stein...always Gertrude Stein?!

One of my favorite quotes is a Stein quote:"There ain't no answers. There's never been an answer. That's the answer."

And, I have family coming next week...I believe this is what I am making! Love to You!!!!

Titus said...

Love that armadillo!
And Susan is right, there is a resemblance.
Very amusing post all round, but have to add pedantically that I always put roasted caraway into my goulash. In the spirit of adventure, however, I shall try the gypsy way! Thanks.

linda said...

darling, yes, you are right about the sky...and did you make those lovely clouds too? you are such a brilliant cloud colorer!

this was enchanting, I was completely enthralled in this wee bit of the story and then... this recipe, are you kidding??! lard it is as well as full fat everything else! how delish could this be, I just may move for this one! :)
xox

lakeviewer said...

A bit of history, a dash of gossip, a pinch of literature, and a potful of good food.

Ces said...

I love the drawing! The cookbook - hmn, does it have a recipe for chicken adobo? Hahah! Your food always looks so delicious. I just want to sit there and watch you have a conversation with your guests.

Bella Sinclair said...

MMmmmmm! Highly entertaining and enlightening story. Plus, I LOVED your armadillo! I really want one!

Ribbon said...

Beautiful!

:) Ribbon

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Love your little aerial armadillo. Salad looks good. Unfortunately could not partake in your main dish as I don't eat meat and try to avoid dairy. Made these changes after my daughter had cancer and we read "Anti-Cancer" and "The China Study" - both eye-opening reads from two M.D.s

staceyjwarner said...

absolutely delicious, in ever way...

Woman in a Window said...

Your painting was perfect. Loved the simplicity married with the colour, a white plate and a spicy entree! The book sounds like a hoot!
xo
erin
(are you well? it's been a while and Renee's holding your hand. or are you holding hers...)

Vanessa Brantley Newton said...

ART and FOOD?????? OMG!!!! How lovely. Everything a girl needs to have a great birthday he he he! Hey love how are you??? Seriously you where on my mind all last week and I got so busy with work that I forgot to email you. Hope that all is well with you and your. Thanks so much for you heart felt birthday wish for me. I take all of them to heart. Such good energy that really need right now. I send you a great many hugs and kisses Tessa! You are the best and I love you! I mean it! I really, really, do!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Great armadillo, beautiful colours and design.Pip pip!

Caroline said...

Adorable Armadillo - wonderfully entertaining post, as ever! I do love your blog!!

A Cuban In London said...

I enjoyed this post in the saem way I enjoy my chicken. I suck it down to the bones. And luckily my children have taken after me.

First off, it was your illustration PLUS the caption. Just marvellous. Currently I am reading 'The Little Prince' with my eight-year old daughter and I am rediscovering the magic of the child who draws the snake that swallows the elephant. My daughter is also reading the book in English whilst I am doing it in Spanish.

Excellent recipe, which I will be taking with me and cooking at some point in the near future.

Many thanks for your comments on my blog. They are always appreciated.

Gertrude Stein. Hilarious :-).

Greetings from London.

Carol said...

OMG I am now going to have to go and eat something!! Reading that has made me absolutely starving!!!

C x

Lori ann said...

I love that you have the cookbook gifted to you by your Mother long ago and I love your painting, it's really perfect!

I'm so glad were heading into Gypsy Stew weather here, thank you for the recipe Tessa!
xoxox ♥

julochka said...

oh wow, must add that one to the collection. i don't think the hashish is that hard to come by for the brownies here. :-)

Tessa said...

Thank you ALL so much for stopping by....your visits and comments mean the world to me. Seriously, they do, so thank you. xxx

Bee said...

I love a cookbook that is part memoir/part social history! Goodness, what a scrumptious post.

(And your airborne armadillo is adorable.)