Alice B. Toklas and the French culinary tradition

Alice Babette Toklas was born and raised in California. In 1907 she moved to Paris, where she lived with Gertrude Stein, the American writer and art collector, and later to the Bugey, a region in south-eastern France famous for its gastronomy. She and Gertrude Stein worked as volunteers for the American Fund for French Wounded during the First World War and, although both were Jewish, they remained in Nazi-occupied France throughout the Second World War. In addition to keeping one of the most celebrated tables of the twentieth century, Alice B. Toklas also worked as a translator, and both her memoirs and her correspondence were published to great acclaim. The following is an extract from the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, on the tradition of french cuisine…

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A delicious recipe for pork, white wine, and figs from ancient Rome

This week’s free recipe comes from Roman Cookery, Mark Grant’s classic work on the cuisine of ancient Rome. Roman Cookery unveils one of Europe’s last great culinary secrets: the food eaten by the ordinary people of ancient Rome. Based on olive oil, fish and fresh vegetables, their cuisine was the origin of the Mediterranean diet as we know it today and, in particular, of classic Italian cooking.


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In Search of Lorca

In 1949, Gerald Brenan returned to Spain for the first time since the Spanish Civil War. Determined to see what had become of the country he loved, on his travels in Andalusia he searched for the grave of his friend, the great poet and playwright, Federico Garcia Lorca. Below is an extract from Brenan’s The Face of Spain that finds Brenan searching for Lorca’s grave in the El Albayzín district of Granada…

Yes, this was the Albaicín as it used to be – yet why did it seem
so changed, so different? As I sat listening to the cock-crows, the
answer came to me. This was a city that had killed its poet. And all
at once the idea entered my mind that I would visit, if I could find
it, García Lorca’s grave and lay a wreath of flowers upon it.
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San Pedro de Cardeña – a Sketch from Spain

A hundred years ago Federico García Lorca journeyed around central, north-western and southern Spain. His reflections on his travels were published as Sketches of Spain – his very first published work. During his travels, Lorca visited the monastery in San Pedro de Cardeña near to the northern city of Burgos. As Lorca’s translator noted, there is an added poignancy in his reflections on visiting the monastery (contained in the extract below) as the site was to become home to the hospital where Gestapo doctors assisted Fascist psychiatrist Antonio Vallejo Nájer as he sought to identify the ‘red gene’ in his experiments on International Brigade prisoners of war…. Twenty years after writing these words Lorca was murdered by fascist militia in the province of Grenada. The exact location of his grave is still unknown.
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Weekly Recipe – Chitrita Banerji’s Chingrir Malaikari

This week’s recipe was first published in Tiffin:

Although I say this about every Indian cuisine under discussion, I have to state, with renewed vigor, that the Bengalis really do have one of the most interesting regional Indian cuisines. The low-lying Ganges-Brahmaputra delta, the largest of its kind in the world, has bestowed a bounty of rice on the region, and the abundant rivers have shaped the cuisine so that river fish and other estuarine seafood make their way into almost every aspect of the cuisine. In addition, the hot, wet climate of Bengal makes it a paradise for all the tropical greens and vegetables so beloved along the Indian coasts, including some that are hard to find anywhere else. In short, all the ingredients are in place for a unique and absolutely inimitable cuisine.
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The Hour of The Goddess: An Interview With Chitrita Banerji

Earlier this month Tiffin published the following interview with author of Bengali Cooking, Chitrita Banerji:

I met Chitrita Banerji the week before Thanksgiving at her Cambridge home, where we shared a pot of fine tea and she plied me with homemade Bengali snacks—sandesh, the milk sweet so popular in Banerji’s native Kolkata, and postor bora, fried croquettes made out of white poppy seeds and rice flour. The bricked-in alleys and mews outside were deserted from the piercing cold and it was a delight to speak with Banerji about everything from Satyajit Ray (whose Feluda stories she has translated) to the history of chhana, the milk solids that famously form the basis of a wide variety of Bengali sweets (sandesh included).
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A delightful winter recipe from one of France’s greatest chefs

This week’s free recipe is taken from Edouard de Pomiane’s Cooking with Pomiane. A highly-respected scientist at the Institut Pasteur in Paris as well as a much-loved radio chef, Pomiane was once described by Raymond Blanc as “my hero.”

‘To prepare dinner for a friend is to put into the cooking pot all one’s affection and good will, all one’s gaiety and zest, so that after three hours’ cooking a waft of happiness escapes from beneath the lid.’
—Edouard de Pomiane

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A warming winter recipe from ancient Rome

From this week we will be offering a free weekly recipe to our blog readers. Our first offering is this warming winter recipe from Mark Grant’s Roman Cookery.

Roman Cookery unveils one of Europe’s last great culinary secrets: the food eaten by the ordinary people of ancient Rome. Based on olive oil, fish and fresh vegetables, their cuisine was the origin of the Mediterranean diet as we know it today and, in particular, of classic Italian cooking.