The Hemingway Cookbook

The Hemingway Cookbook

by Craig Boreth
The Hemingway Cookbook

The Hemingway Cookbook

by Craig Boreth


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Ernest Hemingway’s insatiable appetite for life was evident in his writing and was rivaled only by his voracious appetite for good food and drink. The Hemingway Cookbook collects more than 125 recipes from Hemingway’s life and art featuring such unique dishes as Dorado Fillet in Damn Good Sauce, Woodcock Flambé in Armagnac, Campfire Apple Pie, and Fillet of Lion washed down with Campari and Gordon’s Gin or a cool Cuba Libre. The pages are enriched by family photos; dining passages from stories such as A Moveable Feast, The Old Man and the Sea, and A Farewell to Arms; his short stories; personal correspondence; and even a contribution from his last wife, Mary. Collecting recipes from former Hemingway haunts, period cookbooks, and other sources, this book is an authentic re-creation of the meals that so enriched Hemingway’s literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613740729
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/01/2012
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 782,614
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Craig Boreth is the author of How to Iron Your Own Damn Shirt and How to Feel Manly in a Minivan and the owner of the Santa Monica Chocolate Company.

Read an Excerpt

The Hemingway Cookbook

By Craig Boreth

Chicago Review Press Incorporated

Copyright © 1998 Craig Boreth
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61374-072-9



A Taste for Life

"Don't be afraid to taste all the other things in life that aren't here in Oak Park. This life is all right, but there's a whole big world out there full of people who really feel things. They live and love and die with all their feelings. Taste everything, Sis."

— Ernest to his sister Marcelline, 1919

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born July 21,1899, and ate meat, vegetables, eggs, and fish shortly thereafter. His father, Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway (known commonly as Ed), believed such foods were essential for nursing babies to grow up strong and healthy. His mother, Grace Hall Hemingway, lamented the decision. She noted in her daughter Marcelline's baby book her annoyance at receiving the babies for nursing with onions on their breath.

The Hemingways lived in the affluent and proper Chicago suburb of Oak Park. Grace Hemingway, once an aspiring opera singer, remained ambitious in her endeavors as a music teacher, suffragist, and painter. Mothering six children did not lessen her distaste for housework, and she continued her pursuit of the fine arts over the culinary arts. In fact, she was such a stranger to the kitchen that when she finally mastered a recipe from her mother's cookbook, she decided to quit while she was ahead. When Marcelline suggested that she learn to make a layer cake, Grace replied, no doubt with chin up and eyes beaming, "I proved I could cook with my tea cake, and I'm not going to take a chance of spoiling my reputation by trying anything else."

This recipe is based on Grandmother Hall's English tea cake recipe, which Grace contributed to the 1921 edition of the Oak Park Third Congregational Church Cookbook. The author would like to thank Jennifer Wheeler and the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park for their generous assistance in obtaining this recipe.

Grace Hall Hemingway's English Tea Cakes

The original recipe for these tea cakes is rather vague in its instructions. Grace shared the recipe with Liz Dilworth, the mother of Ernest's best friend from upper Michigan, where the Hemingways had a summer cottage on Walloon Lake. The Dilworths lived in Horton Bay on Lake Charlevoix. Mrs. Dilworth, known as Aunty Beth to the Hemingway children, ran a small restaurant called Pinehurst Cottage, famous for its fried chicken dinners. Mrs. Dilworth worked out the exact proportions of the recipe and taught Grace how to prepare it. After secretly mastering the recipe at the Dilworths', Grace finally prepared the hot bread in the Hemingway kitchen and served it with great pride and joy. Ed could hardly contain his praise: "Delicious! Grade, delicious!"


1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
½teaspoon salt
1½ cups warm water (110° F)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 teaspoons lard or shortening
2 large eggs, beaten
½cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
¼cup warm milk
1 cup dried currants or raisins
Plenty of extra melted butter for swathing

To set the sponge, whisk together the yeast, salt, and water in a mixing bowl for several minutes until the yeast is completely dissolved. Stir in l½ cups of the flour and mix until smooth. Cover with a towel and let stand in a draftfree space for 2 hours.

When the sponge has risen, stir in the butter and lard, along with the remaining flour, beaten eggs, sugar, milk, and currants or raisins. Mix thoroughly to form a stiff batter. Cover and let stand up to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Divide the batter evenly into four buttered pie tins and let rise for at least 2 hours. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the cakes to a cooling rack, brush with a lot of melted butter, cut into wedges, and serve while still warm.

Grace's tea cake recipe was also published in The Nineteenth Century Women's Club Historical Centennial Cookbook, along with a recipe for "Ernest Hemingway's Cold Cucumber Soup." Ernest's connection with this sweet cucumber and leek broth is unclear, but here it is:

Ernest Hemingway's Cold Cucumber Soup


3 cucumbers
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or mint
1 leek, white part only, sliced, or ¼ cup chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups fresh chicken stock or canned broth
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
White pepper (optional)
1 cup half & half
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon honey (optional)

Peel and slice two of the cucumbers. Peel, seed, and grate the remaining cucumber. Heat the butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the sliced cucumbers and cook over low heat for a few minutes. Add the dill or mint, leek, and bay leaf and cook over low heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for a few more minutes, stirring constantly. Add the stock and salt and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and let the mixture cool slightly. Purée the mixture, half at a time, in a blender or food processor. Return to the pan and add the white pepper to taste. Add the half & half, lemon juice, and honey; then taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the grated cucumber. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve in a chilled bowl.

Ed Hemingway extended the same moral sense of discipline and responsibility that ruled all aspects of his life to food and eating. He was a passionate outdoorsman, hunting a vast array of game for the Hemingway table. This was particularly useful when the family would retreat from Oak Park each summer to their cottage on Walloon Lake in upper Michigan. Dr. Hemingway would often stay behind to work at his family practice, but when he was out in the country he was truly in his element. He quickly began to share his passion with his young son.

Ed Hemingway believed in hunting for food and eating everything that he killed. So, in Ernest's fourteenth summer, when Ernest and summertime chum Harold Sampson returned triumphant after hunting and killing a porcupine that had injured a neighbor's dog, Dr. Hemingway did not shower them with praise as expected. Instead, in his typical firm and unforgiving tone, Dr. Hemingway made them eat the animal, which turned out to be "about as tender and tasty as a piece of shoe leather."

Ernest's older sister Marcelline, in her memoir of those early years, At the Hemingways, shares one of her father's anecdotes that displayed his skills and experience as a chef and outdoorsman. It is a story that Ernest no doubt heard repeatedly and loved, for details of Ed's youthful adventure show up years later in his son's early writings. It was not the last time that Ernest would take the stories of others and make them his own.

In the summer between his graduation from Oberlin College and his medical training at Rush Medical College in Chicago, Ed was asked to participate in a geological expedition in the Smoky Mountains. The expedition lasted longer than expected, and the supplies began to run low. Determined to provide a good meal (he was, after all, asked on the trip because he could cook), Ed shot some partridge and a few squirrels, coaxed honey from a bee's nest, and whipped up a meal of fried game, biscuits, and blackberry pie. To his fellow campers' amazement, Ed explained how he rolled out the piecrust using a beer bottle as a rolling pin.

His father awakened Ernest's love of the outdoors, of fishing and hunting, in those first summers on the lake. Ernest would eventually take that same, all-consuming passion for sport and adventure and apply it to the bullfights, deep-sea fishing, big game hunting, and virtually any endeavor upon which he embarked. As a young boy, though, the cottage door opened into deep woods, trout streams, campfires, and endless adventures. He saved the sights, sounds, and smells, as he would throughout his life. Eventually he would return through that same door, this time into his imagination, when his gift beckoned and he could not resist.

The summers in Michigan served Ernest in both his fiction and his journalism. In an early article for the Toronto Star, Ernest offered a how to guide to cooking in the bush. Later, in one of his finest short stories, he follows Nick Adams on a fishing trip to the "Big Two-Hearted River." In both cases, he takes particular care to share the sensation of the foods.

Camping Out

In January 1920, Ernest traveled from Oak Park to Toronto to act as companion and tutor to the son of wealthy parents he met in Michigan while speaking on his wartime adventures. While there, he began writing for the Toronto Star, whose editor found Ernest's straightforward prose and good humor perfect for the paper's new direction. Young Hemingway had his own byline and received a penny a word for his articles. Hemingway would eventually work as a European correspondent for the Toronto Star during his time in Paris.

In his article "Camping Out: When You Camp Out, Do It Right," Hemingway shows that, even as a very young man, he had a knack for writing with an air of gentle, humorous authority. When he lectures on exactly how to prepare a delicious meal in the bush, it seems only wise to listen carefully.

Fried Trout

Ernest loved trout fishing and he loved eating trout. He enthusiastically shared his pleasure with his earlier readers, as he would later do after visiting the Spanish Pyrenees (see Trucha a la Navarra, page 84) and Switzerland (see Trout au Bleu, page 58). Interestingly, our first introduction to Hemingway's trout is very similar to its Spanish counterpart. So we may take this campfire version as an introduction to trout, a dish that will reach great heights of gastronomic pleasure as the years pass. For now, let us follow young Ernest as he sets up camp and begins to prepare the day's catch, and we will learn what to do and what not to do.


1 cup Crisco or vegetable shortening
4 whole trout, cleaned
1 cup cornmeal
8 slices bacon

Hemingway instructs: "The proper way to cook is over coals. Have several cans of Crisco or Cotosuet or one of the vegetable shortenings along that are as good as lard and excellent for all kinds of shortening. Put the bacon in and when it is about half cooked lay the trout in the hot grease, dipping them in cornmeal first. Then put the bacon on top of the trout and it will baste them as it slowly cooks....

"The trout are crisp outside and firm and pink inside and the bacon is well done — but not too done. If there is anything better than that combination the writer has yet to taste it in a lifetime devoted largely and studiously to eating."

Heat the Crisco in a skillet over medium heat (or over coals, not open flame, if cooking by campfire). While heating the shortening, coat each trout in cornmeal and set aside. When the shortening is hot, cook the bacon halfway. Just before it browns, remove from the pan. Place the trout in the pan (this may require two batches, depending on your luck on the river). After 5 minutes, turn the trout and place 2 strips of bacon over each fish. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.

While the trout are cooking to perfection, Hemingway suggests you placate the hungry mob with coffee and pancakes.


When camping, Hemingway carried with him a sack of prepared pancake flour so that he could simply add water, mix until most of the lumps are out, and cook on a hot, greased skillet. To this day, nothing takes the hard edge off a campsite hunger like a hot stack of pancakes. Ernest's favorite toppings were apple butter, syrup, or sugar and cinnamon.7 While today you may simply bring along any instant pancake mix, the purist would want to prepare the following pancake mix before leaving home. You can find the powdered milk and eggs at any well-stocked outdoor store.


1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon baking powder
2½ tablespoons powdered milk
3 tablespoons powdered eggs
¼ cup shortening

Before leaving home, mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the shortening and stir with a fork until thoroughly incorporated. Store the mix in an airtight container.

To make the pancakes, add slightly less than 1 cup of water per cup of pancake mix. Mix well, but don't worry about all of the lumps. Pour out mix to form round pancakes on a hot, greased griddle. When the edges are just browned and bubbles form, flip the pancakes and cook the other side until lightly browned. Any of Ernest's recommended toppings go wonderfully with the pancakes.

Stewed Apricots

The stew kettle was an essential implement around the Hemingway campfire. In it he would soak, overnight, dried apricots in plenty of water. By the next morning, the fruit would have returned to its "predried plumpness," and could be cooked until very tender and enjoyed as a sweet snack after the pancakes were gone. Ernest would also use the kettle to cook macaroni or to "... concoct a mulligan in...." Of course, the thoughtful camper will be boiling water in the stew kettle for washing dishes while it's not in use for cooking.

Campfire Apple Pie

In this recipe, Ernest takes a page from his father's book of cooking tricks, suggesting that the reader roll out the piecrust using a bottle. It also shows an attention to detail and presentation, most likely attributed to Ed's deliberate teachings. Hemingway recommends using a reflective campfire baker. These days, such devices are hard to come by. If you have one, by all means dust it off and start baking. Otherwise I would recommend using a Dutch oven or a baking device such as the Outback Oven Ultralight, which converts your own cooking pot into a fine campfire baker.

For the filling

1½ cups dried apple slices
½ cup sugar

For the piecrust

2½ cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup shortening, preferably chilled, plus a little more
4-5 tablespoons cold water, or more if needed

Soak the apples in 3 cups cold water overnight.

Mix 2½ cups flour with salt. Blend in the % cup lard with a fork until it reaches the consistency of coarse meal. Add just enough water to work into a "... good workmanlike dough ..."

Flour any clean, flat surface available. Divide the dough into two pieces, with one piece slightly larger than the other, and use a bottle to roll out the dough in circles large enough to fill a pie tin, preferably the kind with holes. Spread a little more lard on the dough, sprinkle with flour, then roll one piece around the bottle and unroll it into the bottom of the pie tin.

Drain the soaked apples, mix in the sugar and 2 tablespoons flour, and place in the pie tin. Drape the top dough over the pie, crimping the edges with your fingers. Then, "cut a couple of slits in the top dough sheet and prick it a few times with a fork in an artistic manner. Put it in the baker with a good slow fire for forty-five minutes and then take it out, and if your pals are Frenchmen they will kiss you."

These recipes, direct from Ed's storytelling, are as intricate as any Hemingway would ever provide for his readers. While he wrote many spectacular descriptions of exquisite dishes and extravagant meals, Hemingway was not a particularly skilled cook. In fact, when Ernest was prevailed upon to instruct on the preparation of "The Hamburger" in Venice in 1954, he took haste in delegating that responsibility to friend and biographer A. E. Hotchner. The food that Nick Adams prepared in "Big Two-Hearted River" is a much better representation of the foods Ernest himself would prepare when out in the wild on his own.

"Big Two-Hearted River"

In the late summer of 1919, Ernest and two friends took the train to Seney, on Michigan's upper Peninsula, to fish and camp by the Fox River. Seney was a ghost town, just as the fictional Nick Adams found it when Ernest brought him there. Hemingway wrote "Big Two-Hearted River" in Paris in 1924, telling the story of a young man on a fishing trip. He included in this story his acute focus on the most minute details, implanting "it in geography and, insofar as possible, ... [knowing] what time it was on every page." This newly developed characteristic in his emerging style is seen clearly when Nick settles by his campfire to eat:

Nick put the frying pan on the grill over the flames. He was hungrier. The beans and spaghetti warmed. Nick stirred them and mixed them together. They began to bubble, making little bubbles that rose with difficulty to the surface. There was a good smell. Nick got out a bottle of tomato catchup and cut four slices of bread. The little bubbles were coming faster now. Nick sat down beside the fire and lifted the frying pan off. He poured about half the contents out into the tin plate. It spread slowly on the plate. Nick knew it was too hot. He poured on some tomato catchup.


Excerpted from The Hemingway Cookbook by Craig Boreth. Copyright © 1998 Craig Boreth. Excerpted by permission of Chicago Review Press Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction Dining with Hemingway WILD GASTRONOMIC ADVENTURES,
1 The Early Years A TASTE FOR LIFE,
5 Key West and Cuba SAILING THE STREAM,
7 The Hemingway Wine Cellar,
8 The Hemingway Bar,
Epilogue An After-Dinner Treat THE FABLE OF THE GOOD LION,
General Index,
Recipe Index,

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Craig Boreth’s journey through the best of Papa’s eating and drinking in his real life as well as in his fiction is . . . masterful and lends the work a story-like quality, which is rarely found in a cookbook.”  —John H. N. Hemingway, son of Ernest Hemingway

“Hemingway, of course, has always been larger than life, and these recipes, like his writing, exude that lustiness and vitality. We end up with dishes from the most mythical and romantic spots in the world: France, Italy, Spain, Africa, Key West, and Cuba. And to have a book spiked with his words and observations makes The Hemingway Cookbook a truly extraordinary package.”  —Charlie Trotter

“An engagingly written, carefully researched, handsomely illustrated account of Ernest Hemingway’s lifetime of gastronomic adventure with delectable recipes. . . . Truly a feast for all the senses, a treasure for Hemingway buffs and gourmets alike."  —Susan F. Beegel, editor, the Hemingway Review


“Craig Boreth has dug up and documented the entire range of Hemingway’s gustatory experience. The Hemingway Cookbook comprises a feast for the senses, useful and necessary for the scholar but even more intriguing and pleasurable for the aficionado.”  —Allen Josephs, president, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation & Society

"Papa had some pungent comments about wine then that still ring true today."  —Harvey Steinman, editor at large, Wine Spectator 

"Authentic recipes from Hemingway's favorite places bring to life an aspect of his life and writings long overlooked. Food was obviously very dear to hemingway's heart and an integral part of his expansive love of life. ¡Olés!"  —Penelope Casas, author, Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain

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