Ernest Hemingway had an insatiable appetite for life, love, writing, and - yes - food. To read him was to have a seat at his table in the nostalgic places he and his characters inhabited - from the woods and streams of Michigan to France, Italy, Spain, Africa, Key West, Fla., and Cuba.
Craig Boreth takes us on these gustatory journeys in grand literary style in "The Hemingway Cookbook" (Chicago Review Press, 1998, $24).
He deftly extracts the recipes from Hemingway's short stories, journalism, and novels, and simmers them with quotes and observations that recall their place and time. Like the many courses of a great meal, he adds handsome photographs and intimate details of the great American writer at that particular moment in his life and art.
These concurrent feasts nourish both devoted readers and gourmands.
This more-than-a-cookbook begins with Hemingway's early years as an ardent fisherman and segues into one of his Nick Adams stories, "Big, Two-Hearted River." The recipe: pork, beans, and spaghetti cooked over a campfire.
"While this dish may seem simple and common," Boreth comments, "when eaten alone in the bush by a favorite trout stream after a long journey, you may understand its ascension into the pantheon of haute cuisine literaire."
A recipe index hints at the growing sophistication of the writer-diner: A "breakfast to end breakfasts" of Rognons Grilled with Champignons (Veal Kidneys Grilled with Mushrooms), Omelet with Truffles, and Canadian Bacon; an informal, celebratory meal with Pulpo a la Vinagreta (Octopus Vinaigrette), Papatas Alioli (Potatoes in Garlic Mayonnaise), Pimientos (Roasted Red Peppers), Canap of Fried Fish.
Boreth offers as "an after-dinner treat" the text of one of Hemingway's lesser-known short stories, "The Fable of the Good Lion."
In this artful book, we see the forever-passionate Hemingway's zest for all that feeds life and the imagination. His creed might be summed up in this advice to his sister, Marcelline, after he returned from World War I, in which he was severely wounded:
"Don't be afraid to taste all the other things that aren't here in Oak Park. This life is all right, but there's a whole big world out there full of people who really feel things. They live and love and die with all their feelings. Taste everything, Sis."
Today marks the centennial of Ernest Hemingway's birth.
MARINATED TUNA WITH ONIONS
2 pounds fresh tuna steak cut into small chunks
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leaves, whole
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup olive oil
1 cup vinegar, approximately (cider or balsamic)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place tuna chunks in a heatproof casserole and cover with the onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste, pour the olive oil over the fish, stir, and let stand about 20 minutes. Add just enough vinegar to cover the fish. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
If you have time, prepare this dish and let it sit overnight. This allows the flavors to mingle and produces a more profound favor.
Serve at room temperature with plenty of bread for mopping.
Serves 4 to 6.
MOUNT EVEREST SPECIAL
A.E. Hotchner, in his biography "Papa Hemingway," notes that this sandwich was Hemingway's favorite.
2 slices white bread
2 thick slices of onion
Spread 1 slice bread thickly with peanut butter. Place onion slices on top. Cover with second slice of bread.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society