Words work for me. Actually, they more than work for me; they change how I think; They infiltrate my brain cells and subvert my thoughts – in the most delicious way!
For instance, I never gave Istanbul a second thought until, recently, I started to read Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence. Now all I want to do is go to Istanbul. When last year I read Haag’s ‘literary biography’ of Alexandria, City of Memory, all I wanted to do was go to Alexandria.
It’s the same with food, and here, I think, I am not alone: After reading Hemingway’s description of eating oysters in his Moveable Feast I became obsessed with oysters. (It could happen to you too …beware!):
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.
It’s the most quoted passage on food I know of. I’ve seen people quote it on television and I bet many a couple rushed off to the nearest seafood restaurant to guzzle down some oysters, even if just to ‘make plans’ afterwards, like the Hemingway. (What were the ‘plans’, I’ve always wondered.)
In another passage Hemingway describes once again having oysters and with it, he has a bottle of white wine and not the mandatory bubbly. There are some South African Cap Classiques that don’t cut it, but of course there are some that do. But what, for goodness sake, is wrong with changing the tradition and having, instead of champagne, a good quality white wine? A steely Chablis, for instance? They’re light and refreshing, and great summer drinking wines. (And in the absence of bubbles, let your piquant conversation provide the sparkle!) Or a minerally South African sauvignon blanc or a subtly wooded chardonnay. Hmmm.
Does anyone know if they sell Namibian oysters in London? Eating Namibian oysters was heavenly. If you find them on a menu, don’t hesitate – order them! You will speak in tongues.