Ernest Hemingway

A MOVEABLE FEAST Perhaps the most famous sentence about oysters in American literature was penned by a young Ernest Hemingway in his near biblical work about his life in Paris from 1921 to 1926. The book title comes from the opening title page. Says Hemingway: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

Early in the book, he is in a cafe and feeling a little lonely, jotting down a few notes. In his own words: "I closed up the story in the notebook and put it in my inside pocket and I asked the waiter for a dozen "portugueses" and a half - carafe of the dry white wine they had there." He had ordered a dozen Crassostrea angulata - the legendary oblong oysters said to have descended spontaneously from the sinking of a single oyster-laden ship from the orient in a harbor in Portugal.

On page 6, he professes his love for oysters in the famous sentence:

"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 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 make plans."

Sadly, the "Portuguese" oyster is rarity today in France. But the art of matching a perfect wine to any given oyster lives on. It is an ideal that we all share.