The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

Hemingway eats oysters in Paris.

Britain may, as Robb Walsh asserts in Sex, Death & Oysters, have bequeathed its way Hemingway_working.jpgwith the oyster to America, but France follows a similar path. Hemingway in Paris, his moveable feast, relished raw oysters when he could afford them and probably when he could not. In “A Good Café on the Place St.-Michel,” he describes the restorative effect of oysters on his frame of mind. Even if Hemingway flirts with the timeworn trope connecting oysters with sex, it is a passage often quoted if not at sufficient length and worthy of quotation:

“I closed up the story in the notebook and put it in my inside pocket and I asked the waiter for a dozen portugaises and a half-carafe of the dry white wine they had there. After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day.

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.”