The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Oct 10, 2012

Moveable Feast

In the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley went to Paris, to move among the 'Lost Generation' (a name coined by Gertrude Stein, matriarch of expatriate artists, that Papa resented very much), attempt to become a great writer, and pretend to be starving while the cheques poured in for his various works. He had brought letters of introduction to this exalted circle from America, but really, there was no need - all the expats were very welcoming and went to the same eateries. He was quickly caught up in the whirl of intellectual hedonism and the excitement of Paris, and to his dying day, claimed
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
One day he was hungry and received six hundred francs from some German publisher, and he went to Brasserie Lipp, purveyor of authentic and fine Alsatian cuisine. In his posthumously published A Moveable Feast, considered by mavens to be one of his finest works, he described the meal in his characteristically terse and trenchant style
The beer was very cold and wonderful to drink. The potatoes in oil were firm and marinated and the olive oil was delicious. I ground black pepper over the potatoes and moistened the bread in the oil. After the first heavy draught of beer I drank and ate very slowly, and when the potatoes were gone I ordered another serving and a cervalas, a sausage-like heavy, wide frankfurter split in two and covered with mustard sauce. I mopped up all of the oil and all of the sauce with bread and drank the beer slowly until it began to lose its coldness and then I finished it and ordered another.
Hemingway was a creature of habit and always went to the same restaurants to order his favourite dishes; only if someone else were paying would he choose something new to try. He considered himself a down-to-earth sort, and preferred hearty rustic cooking to French haute cuisine. He liked, he said
the kinds of food that stick to your ribs and give you the feeling that you really have something that you can dig into with gusto and not worry too much about good manners.
That search for the simple and the hardy, it is clear, informed not only his gastronomic quests, but also his literary oeuvre. Wonderful stuff.

Also check out:

Harold Stephens, Hemingway and Food


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