Last night I went to see Woody Allen’s newest film, Midnight in Paris, which is getting raves everywhere. The film is gorgeously shot, the story is whimsical and insightful, and scads of wonderful actors make cameos as 1920s Paris luminaries, including the film’s scene stealer, Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway. With his penetrating stare and intensely delivered monologues, Stoll hilariously captures Hemingway’s terse hyper-masculinity. The two share a striking physical resemblance, too:
What does Ernest Hemingway have to do with Foodie Tuesday, you might be asking? Well, Hemingway’s memoir about 1920s Paris, A Moveable Feast, is an honest, resonant treatise on the creative process and the beauty and folly of youth. It’s also a book about the power of good food to satisfy both spiritual and physical hungers. Vivid accounts of food, wine, and Parisian café life color nearly every page, including this passage, which compelled me to taste–and love–my first oyster many years ago:
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 make plans.
-Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
After the film, my husband, our friends and I went out for dinner at Sue Perette, a homey French restaurant on Smith Street. I had white asparagus with quail eggs, followed by duck confit. E. had paté en croute and a brook trout amandine. We lingered around the table musing over the high points of Midnight in Paris, and felt keenly that the film’s message was spot-on: it’s easy to romanticize the past, but the good old days are always right here, right now.