Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shopping in the Paris of the North Woods

Tonight I'm hosting my book group meeting to discuss Ernest Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast," which is his memoir of his life in Paris in the 1920s. We wanted to read "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain and we decided we should also read what he had to say about it.

I enjoy theme dinners when possible, and the only difficult part of creating a theme around Parisian food is deciding which of so many delicious things to serve. Fortunately, I was aided in this by my little book, "Found Meals of the Lost Generation," which provides menus and recipes inspired by meals described by the group of artists and writers that included Hemingway.

Here are most of the raw ingredients for our meal tonight:

A scholar of Hemingway may look at this and wonder what I could possibly be serving that was mentioned in "A Moveable Feast." Focus on the potatoes, sausages and beer. I've embellished after that because I know my friends will enjoy more and I also wanted to make something Hadley might have ordered if her husband had been thoughtful enough to invite her along.

I'll have photos tomorrow of the completed dishes.

When reading novels set in France, or watching French films, I've often been envious of the food shopping experiences. Those Parisians seem to always be popping down to the corner bakery, stopping by an outdoor produce market, and picking up marvelous meats and cheeses from shop keepers who know not only their customers' names, but their tastes. They also do their shopping on foot; I've never seen a Parisian in any film pull the SUV up to the loading area of a big grocery.

But I don't need to be so jealous! Although Traverse City is not as large as Paris, nor quite as walkable, I was able to accomplish all of my shopping for tonight's meal on foot. I walked over to Maxbauer's for the sausages and on my way home stopped in the very Parisian-like 9 Bean Rows Bakery for bread. From there, I walked across the street to my favorite wine, beer and liquor supplier, Jack's Market, for some French beer. The guys at Jack's told me they don't sell French beer because it's all so bad (haha! imagine -- the French are great at wine but lousy at beer), so instead I bought a Belgian beer with a French name. Hemingway probably didn't drink French beer either. Anyway, everyone in my book group will want to drink wine, so we'll have a taste of the beer and move on to our usual beverage.

The rest of the groceries came from Oryana, where I walked yesterday in the lovely sunshine. Today's weather is drab and drippy and reminds me of Paris in November and the aroma of street vendors roasting chestnuts in big metal pans over open fires. As it happens, I have some local chestnuts, so my friends will get to enjoy that scent tonight.

Now I'd better get cooking.