Salinger's Salad

Salinger’s Salad: A Moveable Feast Menu

511l-DngUMLHemingway’s ode to living and writing in Paris in the 1920’s, A Moveable Feast seems like a natural candidate for a discussion of food in literature. Published posthumously, the Paris memoir was comprised of transcribed writings that came from a several trunks that Hemingway had recovered from the basement of the Ritz hotel in Paris in 1956. The papers were stored in 1928 and were mostly notebooks that he had written during his time in Paris. Before his death, Hemingway edited the transcribed papers to a final draft. The final editing was done by Hemingway literary executor, and his fourth wife, Mary. Scribner’s published the memoir in 1964.

A Moveable Feast is a must-read for anyone who loves the idea of Paris in the 1920’s, for fans of Hemingway, and for those interested in this particular writers’ circle of expatriates, whose major players include, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein, to name a few.

In the titular line of the novel Hemingway writes, “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.” And indeed the Paris in this memoir has become a moveable feast for Hemingway and Paris fans alike.

There is no way to choose one meal that would go with this work, since there is amazing food throughout the book. Hemingway is always walking to the pub or café, having a nibble, a drink, and writing. When describing  his time spent there with his family he writes: “We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”

Indeed the simplicity of this statement greatly summarizes the food shown and shared in the memoir. The point always seems to be not the price or fanciness surrounding any of the food here, but rather the nourishment and pleasure the food and drink give to the consumer:

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”

Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gelhorn Make a Toast

Of course wine played a huge role in A Moveable Feast. “Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary…”

And while food played a huge role, so did lack of it, as Hemingway notes: “Hunger is good discipline.”

And when there was no money to café hop:

“Let’s walk down the rue de Seine and look in all the galleries and in the windows of the shops.’

‘Sure. We can walk anywhere and we can stop at some new café where we don’t know anyone and nobody knows us and have a drink.’

‘We can have two drinks.’

‘Then we can eat somewhere.’

‘No. Don’t forget we have to pay the library.’

‘We’ll come home and eat here and we’ll have a lovely meal and drink Beaune from the co-operative you can see right out of the window there with the price of the Beaune on the window. And afterwards we’ll read and then go to bed and make love.’

‘And we’ll never love anyone else but each other.’

‘No. Never.”

Sigh. How reading old writing can pull the covering from truth and reveals its unintended lie.

And while there is plenty of food in the pages of A Moveable Feast, I can’t help but offer up a menu of my own. A menu that I would love to eat while I created my own moveable feast.

The Moveable Feast Menu

First course: Champagne. Oysters, Garbure (Popular French Peasant Ham and Vegetable stew)

Main course: Red Burgundy, Sauvignon blanc, Chablis. Fish Beurre Blanc, Steak Marchand de Vin (Steak with shallot red wine sauce). Sautéed asparagus (white variety in Spring)

Cheese course: Since there are more than 400 kinds of cheese in France, I’m going to let you use your imagination here…although I am partial to triple creams. Here is a list of French Double and Triple Creams.  Great. Now I just drooled. 

Dessert Course: Chocolate Profiteroles, pot de crème {I like chocolate. Just a liiiiiittle bit.}

Coffee: Café noisette (strong espresso with a small amount of milk), small piece of dark chocolate

Digestiif: cognac and a re-read of A Moveable Feast

Along with a taste for the beautifully described food and drink in this memoir, I learned one of my most trusted personal writing rules from  Hemingway in these pages: “I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it…I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.”

6a00d8341c562c53ef0115713438c9970c-800wiFind Hemingway’s interview with George Plimpton on the Art of Fiction Here.  Find the Hemingway Cookbook, that “recreates the dishes and drinks that nourished the author and his characters” HERE.

Interesting Hemingway Fact: Hemingway stands when he writes. With a typewriter and reading board chest-high facing him. He means business.

What would be your “must eat” menu in Paris?

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