Recipe Stories: The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

Recipe Stories images originated with the Joy of Cooking cookbook. Artist Betsy Krebs stumbled across a reference to Alice B. Toklas and her way of handling fish. The reference mentioned the Toklas cookbook and a chapter in that book entitled “Murder in the Kitchen”. The Toklas cookbook fascinated Betsy.
“It was filled with untraditional methods of preparing foods that actually worked. Upon reading the background and histories that accompanied each recipe, I began to see images in my head related to how it would look as a painted image. I particularly enjoyed and produced many pieces from the chapter entitled Dishes for Artists, creating a fish image painting based on a design described by Alice for her friend Picasso….The fact that Alice’s cookbook included her memories of Gertrude Stein from a perspective of what they ate, it is impossible to not have Gertrude woven into the recipe story images. The images include Gertrude’s ‘Cubist’ and ‘automatic’ style of writing related to their love affair. Also included are bits and pieces of history giving a ‘key hole’ perspective related to German occupied France in the early part of the century, such as specific foods and their uses in the country at that time.”

Each of the table setting images are graphite rubbings surrounded by tablecloth pattern designs. The tablecloth patterns are based on Alice’s dress pattern designs captured in photographs. The actual recipes are included on archival quality, acid free paper. There are many symbolic clues in each piece related to Alice and Gertrude’s life together. Wallpaper, and Stein’s favorite fabric designs from her collection of colorful vests are also included in some pieces.