HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
JUNE 25, 2004 17
I cover story
Visit to Dallas is chronicled in Toklas' cookbook
VISIT, continued from Page 1
writing it in the way that Gertrude did.
Among those many invitations to speak
was one from Dallas, from Miss Ela
Hockaday, the founder and headmistress of
the Hockaday School, to this day among
the most prestigious and elite girl's schools
in the Southwest. Miss Hockaday invited
the couple to stay at her cottage on the
edge of the school campus.
Very little written history remains
today regarding the visit. Most of what
does appear in print is in the cookbook.
"It was a fresh new world," Alice wrote.
"Gertrude Stein became attached to the
young students, to Miss Hockaday and the
life in Miss Hockaday's home and on the
Gertrude was taken with Miss
Hockaday's culinary abilities. Alice noted,
"Miss Hockaday explained that all good
Texas food was Virginian."
Alice was in heaven when she walked
into Miss Hockaday's kitchen. "Miss
Hockaday's kitchen was the most beautiful
one I have ever seen, all old coppers on the
stove and on the walls, with a huge copper
hood over the stove. Everything else was
modern white enamel."
At one meal, Miss Hockaday served
cornbread sticks, something that neither
of the visitors had ever tasted before.
"The only recipe I carried away with me
was for cornsticks, not knowing in my
ignorance that a special iron was required
in which to bake them," Alice wrote.
In the cookbook, Alice makes an interesting note about specific restaurants,
allowing for some reading between the
lines. "In Columbus, Ohio, there was a
small restaurant...the cooks were women
and the owner was a woman and it was
managed by women. The cooking was
beyond compare, neither fluffy nor emasculated as women's cooking can be, but succulent and savoury Later, at Fort Worth,
there was a similar restaurant to which
Miss Ella Hockaday introduced us."
After spending a few days in Dallas,
Gertrude accepted an impromptu invitation to speak in Austin.
An editor's note in the Daily Texan, the
campus newspaper at the University of
Texas noted on March 22, "Gertrude Stein
arrived in Austin unexpectedly last night.
Because of the widespread controversy
over the works of Miss Stein and the
author herself, The Daily Texan sent two
reporters to interview her. The exclusive
interview was granted, and the personal
observation of the reporters follow."
The female reporter jotted down what
she called "short gatherings," that went
something like this, "Miss Stein regretted that she did not know about the rodeo
and fat stock show in Fort Worth ... She
agrees that the girls in Dallas are good
The male reporter noted, "We imposed
upon her at a late hour last night. She was
cheerful and eager to answer our questions, to throw a little light on the person
they call Stein. She did just that; perhaps a
He described her this way, "Dressed in a
mannish blouse, a tweed skirt, a peculiar
but attractive vest affair, and comfortable
looking shoes, Miss Stein appeared much
more of the woman than do the pictures
that currently circulate. She strokes her
close cropped hair with a continuous back
to front movement."
Stein complained to him that too many
people were living in the twentieth century but thinking in the nineteenth century.
The reporter quoted her: "Why, the fact
was evident up at Hockaday (where she
stayed in Dallas). The girls of from fourteen to seventeen understood perfectly, but
their teachers did not."
As for Alice, the reporter noted, "Miss
Alice B. Toklas, Miss Stein's traveling
companion whose title is not "secretary,"
according to the author, was present.
This lady who walked in on Miss Stein
twenty-five years ago and has been with
her ever since, has absorbed much of the
charm possessed by the most famous of
The male reporter was a student at the
time, but his name would later become a
household word in America: Walter
From Austin, the pair headed west and
eventually, they sailed for France. Among
the many gifts in their stateroom was a
cast iron pan for baking cornbread sticks
from Miss Ela Hockaday.
"It was my pride and delight in Paris,
where it was certainly unique," Alice
wrote in the cookbook. "What did the
Germans, when they took it in 1944, expect
to do with it? And what are they doing with