Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hemingway. Buttered.

A moment of panic just set in.
I thought I had skipped the letter 'E' of the alphabet challenge. But after several minutes of repeating the alphabet in my head and under my breath, as well as questioning my mental capacity, I found it on my phone and not in my computer files because I wrote 'E' on my phone, on my way to work on the train while it was threatening to rain...
Which brings me to today's letter 'H' for Hemingway.
(Did you get the connection there? The lengthy, run on sentence with a reference to daily activities in bad weather with a constant threat of death? Fine, my train ride is pretty safe, but still.)

I became a fan of Hemingway my Junior year of high school.
Up until then my only exposure was a huge head shot poster of Ernie in a heavy turtleneck sweater staring off into the distance.The poster hung on my first high school American Literature class wall. I vaguely remember that teacher mentioning Hemingway but my biggest take-away from that class was reading The Bridge of San Luis Ray, and the accompanying poster of a bunch of Italians and a bridge on the opposite wall of the Hemingway poster.
Apparently Literature in the 1970's was anchored in graphic arts.

We moved to a much larger high school the end of my Junior year. (By much larger I mean the population of the TOWN I moved from was smaller than my graduating class of the new school.)
I spent four months feeling like the outsider I was, with the exception of art class and American Literature.
Art students are notoriously accepting.

But the American Literature teacher was handsome.
Oh, yeah, and I entered the class as they were just beginning the section on the Hemingway Hero. Nick Adams was a new type of character. He was flawed.
Up to that point my recreational reading was steeped in romantic novels and historical fiction. There were good guys and bad guys but no one was a combination of both.
Until Nick Adams, and by extension Ernest Hemingway.
We read a handful of Nick Adams stories and moved on to A Farewell to Arms and finished with The Sun Also Rises. And by the final day of that semester my thoughts on literature were changed forever.

I re-read The Sun Also Rises during summer break.
And I re-read it every summer after that.
Even though I knew I would be slightly confused by the story.
No matter how many times I read the story Jake and Brett would never make it work.
I tried to figure out why.
I would be angry at Jake. Then Brett.
And each time I read the book a little piece of my own personal philosophy formed.
Although at the time I had no idea.
I was too naive to understand the complexities of the relationships Hemingway described – between the characters and the bull fights or between the characters themselves.

I haven't read The Sun Also Rises in quite a few years. I have read so many more books by and about Hemingway since then. Garden of Eden was my favorite for a while, until A Moveable Feast replaced it. Last summer, under the insistence of my husband, I read A Dangerous Summer – the real accounts of bullfighting in Spain.
I don't agree with the sport but I have to admit, the artistry involved is fascinating.

But it is more than the literature I have fallen in love with.
The lifestyle described in these books – travel, food, drink, friends. It is the life I imagine living.
Who wouldn't want a fresh caught trout roasted over an open flame? Can anything be better than an afternoon at an outside cafe with friends discussing current events, literature and where to get the best cigar. Belmonte is fighting in Pamplona? Hotch has a car? Lets go!

Sure, my life is a little less free-form, what with the full-time job and all. That doesn't stop me from allowing the idea of that lifestyle into my real existence. Not literally. I have never been to a bullfight, nor do I want to go and our group discussions tend to focus more on kids and parents and basketball* (which is pretty much a constant current affair).
It is more an idea.
A feeling.
That anything can be fresh, exciting. And if it has become tired and dull, looking for a new way to make the everyday intriguing again.
Embracing life for what it is.
And to be relished and savored.
For the good and the bad.

And now we drink..

Because one of my other favorite discoveries is the Hemingway Daiquiri.
And while that recipe is pretty simple I learned a way to make it a little more complicated without ruining the simplicity.

I give you the Browned Butter Hemingway Daiquiri!
while not necessary, these taste so much better in very fragile antique glasses, which I only use for photos
 Browned Butter Rum
2 sticks of butter
2 cups white, dark or a mix of both Rum
Melt the butter in a skillet and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the butter begins to brown.
Remove from the heat and SLOWLY stir in the rum.
Cover and let sit in the fridge for two days.
(preferably in a ceramic bowl. Plastic is okay. NO METAL)
After two days remove from the fridge.
Skim off the top layer of butter solids.
Rum butter!
(sounds gross and delish at the same time)
Strain the rum through a coffee filter or cheesecloth and store in the fridge for up to one week.
my makeshift straining device.
Hemingway Daiquiri

2 ounces brown butter rum
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce maraschino liquor
1/4 ounce grapefruit juice
shake over ice
strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Enjoy on the deck as Belmonte regales you with his exploits in the ring and Hotch passes out Cuban cigars.

*This reference is for Craig. Did you see it Craig?
Interested in learning more about Belmonte?
How about A. E. 'Hotch' Hotchner (born and raised in St Louis!):


  1. Nice. Now I wonder where I put my copy of The Sun Also Rises.

  2. as a writer, i'm forever in awe of Hemingway's writing, and even more so as i've become friends with his granddaughter Mariel, but i'm a recovering alcoholic, so the alcoholic side of things -- not so much. great post tho!

    1. I would be completely star struck!! Mariel seems to be such an interesting person in her own right.
      And yes, I understand the alcoholic issues. Good that you are able to take control your own life!

  3. Would love to try this cocktail. The allure of Hemingway, I think, to a great degree is that his work was so autobiographical, sometimes too thinly veiled. After re-reading For Whom the Bell Tolls (and Orwell's Homage to Catalonia) after a trip to the region last year, I decided to visit more of the literary planets in his orbit. Contemporaries Gerald and Sara Murphy (Everybody Was So Young) felt very betrayed by A Moveable Feast, and of course, Hadley (The Paris Wife) soldiered on. And the letters between F. Scott and Ernest, too. ( A fascinating, very complex person.

    1. I agree. So many of the stories are nearly like travelogues. I haven't read the F. Scott letters - will definitely look them up.

  4. Embracing life for what it is ... I'll drink to that! But like you, I'll not be attending any bullfights. Loved "A Moveable Feast."

    1. On of my favorites! Rob and I are fantasy planning our own 'Hemingway' tour of Europe one day.

  5. Loved this Laura - I too always think of the moment in time where he and his friends are living the moment. I recently read The Sun Also Rises. Books and stories that bring you to a new place always intrigue me. I have started to read(finally) MFK Fisher and she shares her story of her love of food and it all began in France.

    1. I am not familiar with MFK Fisher - will have to look it up. France and food are right down my alley!

  6. I loved it too. I haven't had read a whole lot of his work, but this makes me want to read more.

    1. I highly recommend The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast. Garden of Eden is odd, but very romantic.


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