Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
American essayist, poet, and humorist Gertrude Stein was known to be a fan of marijuana brownies. After Stein’s death in 1946, her lover Alice B. Toklas published a cookbook that included the infamous brownie recipe, which itself was quite strange, if you’re used to the packaged variety of brownies. It contained sugar, butter, black peppercorns, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, dates, figs, almonds, peanuts, and…lots of finely crushed pot.
But Stein also had a dyspeptic side, as evidenced by her famous quote, “A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.”
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
Though often associated with Greenwich Village and Paris, novelist and civil rights activist James Baldwin grew up in Harlem. There he developed a hatred for the corned beef that was a staple of his diet, and later wrote, “My mother fried corned beef, she boiled it, she baked it, she put rice in it, she disguised it in corn bread, she boiled it in soup, she wrapped it in cloth, she beat it with a hammer, she banged it against the wall, she threw it into the ceiling.”
During the period in which he lived in Greenwich Village, before he moved to Paris, he particularly enjoyed dining in restaurants. One of his favorites was El Faro, an obscurely located Spanish tapas bar that still exists at 823 Greenwich Street.
Truman Capote (1924-1984)
Despite his diminutive size, Capote early on developed a reputation as a trencherman. It is said that he helped the chef at the Plaza Hotel in New York develop a recipe for chicken hash that included hollandaise sauce, sherry, and lots and lots of heavy cream – with no potatoes. A midnight buffet that he organized there in 1966 called The Black and White Ball featured that same hash, plus a spread of spaghetti Bolognese, scrambled eggs, sausages, pastry, and coffee.