June 29, 2010

Hoppin' good

"They were all eating out of the platter, not speaking, as is the Spanish custom. It was rabbit cooked with onions and green peppers and there were chickpeas in the red wine sauce. It was well cooked, the rabbit meat flaked off the bones, and the sauce was delicious. The girl watched him all through the meal. Everyone else was watching his food and eating. Robert Jordan wiped up the last of the sauce in front of him with a piece of bread, piled the rabbit bones to one side, wiped the spot where they had been for sauce, then wiped his fork clean with the bread, wiped his knife and put it away and ate the bread. He leaned over and dipped his cup full of wine and the girl still watched him."
--For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Do you think Hemingway ever had a meal just like that? Literature doesn't get much more realistic than that bread-sauce dipping sequence. When a meal is that good, you would definitely use bread to sop any residual sauce from both your plate and your fork. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to pick up on this, but methinks it be no mere coincidence that Robert affectionately refers to Maria as his "rabbit" later on.

I had my first bread-soppingly delicious rabbit a few months ago. Prepared with the bones still attached, it ended up tasting a lot like chicken, except leaner and more complex in flavor (or perhaps I just interpreted novelty as complexity). I had, however, no bread with which to sop, so I made do with my bed of rice, the Asian way.

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