Born in 1877 in San Francisco, educated in Seattle, Alice Babette Toklas’s life might be said to have started when she was thirty and went to Paris, where she met Gertrude Stein the day she arrived. They were inseparable for the next thirty-nine years, surviving two world wars, the heyday of the Lost Generation, and all their famous friends. Their love made them truly partners, with Toklas as Stein’s secretary, editor, critic, and muse. Although a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, their books' titles could be deceptive: Stein’s bestselling The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas is really about Stein and Toklas' immortal The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook is as much a reflection on how the French eat and a memoir of feeding Flanner, Picasso, Hemingway, Wilder, Thomson, et al, as it is a collection of recipes, of which there are over three hundred. (The famous brownie recipe was contributed by Brion Gysin, a gay Brit who got a Fulbright to the Sorbonne, developed William Burroughs' "cut up" technique, owned a nightclub in Tangier, and had his ashes scattered in the Caves of Hercules. The recipe was edited out of the US edition but appeared in the UK.) Toklas also wrote an autobiography, What Is Remembered, which self-effacingly, almost self-erasingly, ends with Stein’s death even though she outlived her by two decades. In those final years Toklas was plagued with financial difficulties. She had no recourse after Stein’s heirs took all the famous paintings left to her, and she had no willpower, as a newly converted Catholic, to resist the church's extortion promise that with large enough donations, Toklas could buy Stein's soul out of purgatory and into heaven. Happily, the Jewish lesbians are buried adjacent to each other in Père Lachaise cemetery. Celebrate today by rereading their books, or Monique Truong’s much-praised novel The Book of Salt which imagines their lives through the eyes of their gay Vietnamese cook.