Thursday 11 April 2013

Hemingway has lunch

It was at the Brasserie Lipp, Boulevard Saint-Germain, as recorded in A Moveable Feast (1964), published posthumously: 

The beer was very cold and wonderful to drink. The pommes à l'huile were firm and marinated and the olive oil delicious. I ground black pepper over the potatoes and moistened the bread in the olive oil. After the first heavy draft of beer I drank and ate very slowly. When the pommes à l'huile were gone I ordered another serving of cervelas. This was a sausage like a heavy, wide frankfurter split in two and covered with a special mustard sauce. I mopped up all the oil and all of the sauce with bread and drank the beer slowly until it began to loose its coldness and finished it and ordered a demi ...

I went there twenty years ago to do the same thing. They famously don't take reservations (except, reportedly, from the President himself) so one has to queue for some time, even on a quiet day. As I waited self-consciously in line I saw, at what I immediately recognised as not only the best table in the Lipp but the best table in Paris, or possibly in the world, Charlotte Rampling wearing a crisp white shirt and smoking a cigarette, attentively surrounded by a the sort of men who would prompt an apolitical observer to join the Communist Party. 

Ushered to a remote table in a gloomy back room I diligently ordering the cold beer, the pommes à l'huile and a single serving of Hemingway's heavy sausage (it's a pricey joint). The beer was very cold and wonderful to drink, the pommes à l'huile were firm and marinated and the olive oil delicious. The expensive cervelas was barely edible. But I was a few yards from la Rampling, and that was good  enough.

Extract from A Moveable Feast © The Estate of Ernest Hemingway

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