Monthly Archives: May 2011
First off, I would like to thank you Janel of Janel’s Jumble for becoming a follower of Novel Meals!
Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway is a semi-autobiographical novel set in Italy during World War I. The main character, Frederic Henry, is an American ambulance driver serving in the Italian Army. Henry’s attitude is hard to define – he looks at everything so matter-of-fact. Not a positive or negative side.
Early on he meets English nurse Catherine Barkley and falls in love. The rain, and I mean actual rain..…precipitation …ought to have been written about as a character it showed up so much. Once he falls in love with Catherine he wants nothing else but to get away from the war and start their life together. In the meantime Henry’s life changes further during an attack in which a mortar hits his leg, seriously wounding him and killing Passini.
“I ate the end of my piece of cheese and took a swallow of wine. Through the other noise I heard a cough, then came the chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh- then there was a flash, as when a blast-furnace door is swung open, and a roar that started white and went red and on and on in a rushing wind.”
Henry gets sent to a hospital in Milan where he seems to wait an eternity to see a doctor. I’m thinking the leg is going to be amputated at this point. Catherine shows up at the hospital and you know then, they are committed to one another. They spend the summer in Milan as Henry recuperates.
Catherine states to Henry that she’s always been afraid of the rain. Henry pesters her to explain why and she banters, “Don’t make me” “Tell me” “No” and this goes on a bit.
And then she says,
“I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it.”
“And sometimes I see you dead in it”
“That’s more likely, “ he tells her.
“It’s all nonsense. I’m not afraid of the rain. I’m not afraid of the rain. Oh, oh god I wish I wasn’t” She was crying. I comforted her and she stopped crying. But outside it kept on raining.
It’s almost like Catherine could see part of her future.
After Henry escapes an interrogation which, he knows, will end with his execution, he finds Catherine again and they escape to Switzerland. Catherine is pregnant now and they go to live in Lausanne as it is close to a hospital. The labor is hard and long and sadly, the baby is stillborn. To make it more tragic, Catherine starts hemorrhaging and dies. Henry is by her side through all of it. It was awful to read those last pages.
After Catherine dies, he walks back to his hotel room in the rain. That’s the end. Really sad.
“I sat down on the chair in front of a table where there were nurses’ reports hung on clips at the side and looked out of the window. I could see nothing but the dark and the rain falling across the light from the windows. So that was it. The baby was dead.” Chapter 41
“It seems she had one hemorrhage after another. They couldn’t stop it. I went into the room and stayed with Catherine until she died. She was unconscious all the time, and it did not take her very long to die.” Chapter 41
So many images that made you sad. In thinking of the meals and food items mentioned, I just didn’t’ want to make the sauerkraut and ham which were one of Henry’s meals in the last chapter.
I decided to prepare pasta asciutta as this was a meal Henry shared with Gordini, Manera, Gavuzzi and Passini before they were attacked and wounded.
“I took out my knife, opened it, wiped off the blade and pared off the dirty outside surface of the cheese. Gavuzzi handed me the basin of macaroni.”
“Start in to eat, Tenente”
“No,” I said, “ put it on the floor. We’ll all eat.”
“There are no forks.”
“What the hell, “ I said in English. I cut the cheese into pieces and laid them over the macaroni. “Sit down to it,” I said. They sat down and I waited. I put my thumb and fingers into the macaroni and lifted. A mass loosened.
“Lift it high, Tenente.”
I lifted it to arms length and the strands cleared…….took a bite of cheese, chewed, and then a drink of wine.
Recipe may be found at Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor.
I am linking to Italy in Reading Challenge. This completes my third book in the challenge.
First off, I would like to thank Maggie for becoming a follower of Novel Meals!
This could be made into a romantic comedy movie easily ……….with a Parisian setting and scenes in the restaurants, cheese shops, the wedding…….oh yeah. People would go see that. I am enjoyed this book and the way the author speaks to you as she would if you were sharing lunch conversation. Laid back, to-the-point, witty and engaging.
One of the events where she felt her life changing:
“The thought occurred to me more than once. What in the name of Karl Lagerfeld am I doing here?
I was wearing the same clothes, holding the same drink, as a night out in New York , but everything felt wrong. I didn’t belong to this amped -up jet set………only three months out of Manhattan, and my sense of destiny, of arrogant momentum, was beginning to dessert me. I was trailing my old life into my new life like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my black lizard heels. I was trying too hard. It was conspicuous and embarrassing, and I wasn’t having any fun.”
I liked the way she described their parents meeting for the first time:
“Gwendal and I are both only children, so it was clear that each side was offering up their most prized possession, hoping others knew what a precious gift they were receiving. When introducing future in-laws, a language barrier can be a very useful thing indeed”
The two couples sitting across from each other tonight were so different that there was no possible way they could pass judgement. My mother was a bobby-socked sorority girl who saw Elvis I concert at the Brooklyn Paramount . Paul grew up speaking Yiddish in the Bronx . Nicole was born in Casablanca when Morocco was still a French protectorate, and Yanig was raised in a small fishing village in Brittany, where he would sail his grandfather’s boat.”
Yet it worked….they had nothing in common except their children.
I delighted in the courtship, the wedding and the cultural differences they were getting accustomed to with one another….but Chapter 14 wiped the smile off my face. The way Yanig’s condition was described and the fact that Elizabeth spent time in her in-laws kitchen, thinking of Yanig and her own father, was a topic I was quite empathetic over. Why didn’t Yanig’s family get a second opinion, ask questions, research options?
“It dawned on me for the first time. In coming to Paris I signed up for more than flaky croissants and shiny mackerel I had accepted a way of dealing with life and death. ….I was trapped in someone else’s system, like I’d bought a one-way ticket to a place I didn’t understand”
This is a memoir I would recommend for anyone who enjoys reading about France, cross cultural exchanges as well as some fine recipes. We have already made several and plan to try more soon.
In keeping with the spirit of making it as Gwendal might, by purging the refrigerator and adding pancetta, I present:
Pasta a la Gwendal
Some olive oil
A large hunk of pancetta
chopped into small bits
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A few carrots, chopped thinly
1 zucchini, chopped into rounds
A heaping forkful of sun-dried tomatoes
Pasta water is on the boil, the veggies are tossed into the frying pan.
Now I added a bit of sour cream to this vegetable and pancetta mixture….just to get it creamy.
I also prepared Ratatouille, recipe is on page 173 in the book.
Bard is an American journalist based in Paris. Lunch in Paris is her first book and has been a New York Times and international best seller.
Surf over to Cook the Books and join in!