Ernest Hemingway and I share a common birthplace: Oak Park, Illinois. I know, I know, that doesn’t make us kin, or kindred writing spirits, nor does this fact link us in any way other than basic provenience at birth. He and I are different kinds of drunkards—and besides, my sentences can run longer than a freight train.
In any case, an interesting story popped up recently about Hemingway and Venice. I feel compelled to share it with you.
Ernest Hemingway’s favorite hotel in Venice is giving visitors the chance to try the culinary ‘cure’ the literary giant prescribed himself there after suffering serious injuries in two air crashes in Africa. ~ Food: Hemingway’s culinary ‘cure’ served up in Venice
If you are like me, you’ll be absolutely giddy with delight that the secret cure (don’t laugh, it worked, dammit!) is based upon scampi and Valpolicella.
Now that’s a cure I can live with.
So after doing some detective work, the Gritti Palace has recreated a seafood-based dish he loved to tuck into there, scampi risotto with crustacean bisque.
Dang, Ernest ate well. Of course the currency exchange rates were a little different in the days before supply side economics, so he could afford it.
One of the most influential books I ever set my reading-glasses enhanced eyes upon was his seldom-read Across the river and into the trees. Here’s Hemi, disguised as Richard Cantwell, a fifty year old army colonel who happens to be dating an 18 year old girl. After having dinner and a couple of bottles of Valpolicella at the Gritti Palace Hotel, the rancid old Colonel talks the waiter into loading more bottles of a decent vintage into a gondola. They decide Valpolicella is best young, when it’s sweet and succulent; I think they call that a foreshadowing sexual symbolism in writing school. Anyway, the odd couple set out with the wine bottles gently clinking together as the water laps the side of the gondola. Ah, romance is in the air! And in the water!
By the time they unfold themselves from their gondola they’d drunk 7 or 8 bottles of wine during the 4 or 5 hours they’d been together. I’m thinking, “that’s a lot.”
My thoughts were not so profound then; I was young.
In any case, Hemingway is a hard guy to keep up with as a mentor. I’m sticking with Henry Miller. I wish Henry ate better though.
The four-course menu, which costs 88 euros per person, is served with two glasses of Hemingway’s beloved Valpolicella or of Soave wine. The second course is ginger- and honey-flavoured duck in aged port sauce.
88 Euros! That should cure you! It’ll make you wallet way lighter in any case.