June 12, 2020
Dear Book Lovers,
Its Foodie time over here on Dear Mr. Hemingway, and today I am literally drooling over Guest Writer~Cathy Barrow’s letter to Mr. H. Trout with a buttery crust, scrumptious pancakes, roast chicken, and a cookbook that reads like a memoir are front and center on the menu today. Let me tell you a little bit about Cathy. She is the author of three fabulous books, When Pies Fly (Grand Central Publishing), Pies Squared (Grand Central Publishing), and Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry (W.W. Norton & Company). She is a writer, teacher, recipe developer, knitter, traveler, and a ponderer (oh how I love to ponder). I truly want to spend time with her. Don’t you? Cathy’s letter to Mr. H. completely won me over. It’s thoughtful, clever, and absolutely delicious!
Enjoy my dear friends!
P.S. Cathy is at work on her 4th book, BAGELS, SCHMEARS, AND A NICE PIECE OF FISH, (Chronicle, February 2022). Check her out here.
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
I’ve read cookbooks almost as long as I’ve read your work. Every cookbook was an adventure story to me, although it isn’t cookbooks that I relate to Ernest Hemingway. Instead, it’s my mother’s Trout Hemingway, for which she was famous. It’s not that my Old Man had any relationship with The Sea, but still, Mom wrapped boneless trout, head on, with two slices of smoked bacon. Then she dipped the entire fish into milk and crushed crackers (Ritz or Saltines.) From there, the trout went into a hot pan with plenty of oil and a little butter for flavor. The fat would splatter and snap and the bacon crisped with the skin of the fish. It was ready fast – no more than a few minutes – and soon we were sitting around the picnic table in the backyard with fish and corn on the cob and my mother, ever the English teacher, would tell us what a rogue you were, Mr. H.
I’ve always loved a novel and The Sun Also Rises is one of my favorites, although when the sun rises here, I am more likely to turn to Marion Cunningham’s excellent The Breakfast Book, a classic with such precise and perfect recipes that I can let it fall open to any page and just make whatever appears before my eyes. Buttermilk Pancakes are a house favorite, but the granola bread is a sure winner, too. Her headnotes are clean and clear. I think you would appreciate her sensible words.
Your books, Mr. H, have such a rugged sense of nature woven into every word. For that reason, surely, you would appreciate the sensibility of Amanda Hesser’s The Cook and The Gardener, a cookbook that feels like a memoir, with recipes that tell the story of her relationship with a cantankerous French gardener, and how his sense of the natural world informed her creativity in kitchen. It’s a beautiful book and I cooked every recipe in it one spring, summer, and fall. Now, reliably, I return for the recipe for a currant and gooseberry tart. The berries rest atop a rich eggy custard in a sweet short crust. It’s a spectacular summer beauty for Whom all The Bells will Toll.
When the Snows of Kilimanjaro are falling, I count on Zuni Cafe to fill my kitchen with heady rich scents. Surely Judy Rodgers’ roast chicken with croutons and greens would be a meal you would appreciate, Ernest. It’s rich and robust and layered with textures and juicy bites.
If I had to choose, vis a vis cookbooks, whether To Have or Have Not, I would always choose Have. Perhaps you, too, would choose to have one of mine? I’ve published a primer on preserving, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, and two books on pie, Pie Squared and When Pies Fly. I think you might enjoy the Cowboy Beef Stew Slab Pie or the Turkey Piccadillo Empanadas.
For now, I’ll say Farewell as I’m going To use these Arms for rolling out a pie crust instead of typing a letter to you,
All the best,