A Moveable Feast

Ernest Hemingway, a man who wrote so well and so lovingly about food, has a gorgeous passage in one of his essays about going fishing and bringing four bottles of white wine to chill in the river. Later, out of the hot sun and having caught a fish or two, he and his companion share the icy wine, eating chunks of cold roast chicken with good cheese and hunks of bread. The passage is simple, but instinctual and evocative.  It’s a food memory that pushes me toward my own; I lie in the sun on a blanket eating fried chicken, and later, I doze in the arms of a man I just met with whom I will fall in love. Food is so simple, yet it connects us to memory and to place, to each other, and, according to Hemingway, to the future: 
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic 
taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling
 and began to be happy and to make plans.”  —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

A little drunk on Hemingway and the memory of how Greg and I met, I celebrate the longest day of the year by floating chicken thighs and legs in a deep bowl of buttermilk, after sprinkling them with kosher salt and cracked pepper, chopped parsley, a bit of garlic, and some red flake pepper. The bowl is covered and placed in the fridge to wait out the shortest night of the year.
Karen’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken
But all night long, I dream of fried chicken, the respite of a summer breeze, and the way it felt to lie in the park, tentative and hopeful, with someone new.  In the morning, I heat oil in a cast iron Dutch oven and gently float eat flour dredged piece in the golden liquid until it turns the same lovely color.  Making chicken takes time. You don’t want to crowd the pot with too many pieces at once, and you don’t want to overbrown the legs or thighs, which will finish in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes or so.  Once done, the whole plate goes back into the refrigerator to chill.

A Slice of Cake by Greg Marquez

Later, I will pack a cooler with a creamy buttermilk blue cheese, sweet grape tomatoes, a lovely Meadowkaas cheese that pairs well with apples, apricots, the fried chicken, and some San Pellegrino pompello (grapefruit flavored mineral water) the city-dwelling boyfriend has bought. Greg will be doing a little art business in Winter Park, so after we deliver his chocolate cake sculpture to Winter Park Chocolate Festivalwe’ll  head up to the head waters of the Colorado, where we will picnic and, no doubt, again doze in the sun. I’ll be thinking of Hemingway who knew so well the transformative power of a simple meal, and I will eat the chicken with its strong taste of earth and faint sour taste that the cold Pellegrino washes away, leaving only the earth taste and the succulent texture. And as I eat this with the buttery cheese and tart apples, I will begin “to feel happy and make plans.”

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