Making a meal of Madrid


Paris may be a moveable feast, but Madrid is the place to satisfy a literary appetite,

Why do I say that, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

I’m in Spain this week visiting Frexeinet wineries with a group of wine writers and in honor of the occasion, I downloaded “The Sun Also Rises,” on my iPad _ I feel like Hemingway would have been a Mac guy, don”t you? When I got to the part where Jake Barnes tucks into a giant meal of roast pork at Botin’s restaurant, not far from my hotel, I was inspired to go check the place out. As some of you may know, my sense of direction is not the best _ and, by the way, those of you who do know,, shut up _ but fortunately a more geographically gifted writer kindly went with me.

We set off bright and early at 8 a.m. _ Well, she was bright and I was early _ and found the place tucked into an alley leading off one of the many impressive squares of the city. It wasn’t hard to spot, one window was decorated with illustrations of the works of Graham Greene, who mentioned Botin’s in his book, “Monsieur Quixote.”

Looks like the author of “The Third Man,” and “The Old Man and the. Sea,” both like their pork.

I did a little research, and according to Wikipedia, Botin’s was founded in 1725 and is listed as the world’s oldest restaurant by the Guinness World Book of Records.

Speaking of Guinness, while wandering back to my hotel, I came across a “genuine Irish pub,” with a tribute to James Joyce”s Ulysses. I’ve read Chapter One of that and decided I’d gone quite far enough, but still another tribute to an author of renown,

If you’re interested in learning more, Elizabeth Nash has written an interesting literary guide to Madrid.

You’re probably wondering, did I try the pork? Of course not, it was eight in the morning and the place was closed. But I have done a good deal of eating in Spain, most of it carnocentric. This is what Hemingway had to say about Spanish cuisine. “The first meal in Spain was always a shock with the hors d’oeuvres, an egg course, two meat courses, vegetables, salad and dessert and fruit. You have to drink plenty of wine to get it all down.”

What he said,