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A Moveable Feast

Felicity Cloake

‘Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity’ 

– Voltaire


  1. ‘Everything depended upon things being served up to the precise moment they were ready ... To keep it waiting was out of the question. Yet of course tonight, of all nights, out they went, and they came in late, and things had to be sent out, things had to be kept hot; the Boeuf en Daube would be entirely spoilt.’

    – Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse.
    (Of course, this schoolgirl error is yet more fodder for those who claim Woolf suffered from anorexia; Boeuf en Daube is infinitely improved by waiting around for a bit.)

  2. ‘Now the Shirelles are coming out of the speakers … and the sound system plus the acoustics, because of the restaurant’s high ceiling, is so loud that we have to practically scream out our order to the hardbody waitress ... who, I’m fairly sure, is flirting with me: laughs sexily when I order, as an appetizer, the monkfish and squid ceviche with golden caviar, gives me a stare so steamy, so penetrating when I order the gravlax potpie with green tomatillo sauce I have to look back at the pink Bellini in the tall champagne flute with a concerned, deadly serious expression so as not to let her think that I’m too interested.’

    – Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho

  3. ‘As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.’

    – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

  4. ‘My grandmother has just made a surprise visit. She caught us huddled round our new Camping-gaz stove eating cold beans out of a tin. My father was reading Playboy under cover of the candlelight and I was reading Hard Times by my key-ring torch. We were quite contented.’

    – Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾  

  5. ‘Þen þe first cors come with crakkyng of trumpes,
    Wyth mony baner ful bryȝt þat þerbi henged;
    Nwe nakryn noyse with þe noble pipes,
    Wylde werbles and wyȝt wakned lote,
    Þat mony hert ful hiȝe hef at her towches.
    Dayntés dryuen þerwyth of ful dere metes,
    Foysoun of þe fresche, and on so fele disches
    Þat pine to fynde þe place þe peple biforne
    For to sette þe sylueren þat sere sewes halden
    on clothe. Iche lede as he loued hymselue
    Þer laght withouten loþe;
    Ay two had disches twelue,
    Good ber and bryȝt wyn boþe.’

    (In other words: ‘Then the first course arrived with a blast of trumpets and waving of banners, with the sound of drums and pipes, of song and lute, so that many a heart was uplifted at the melody. Many were the dainties, and rare the meats, so great was the plenty they might scarce find room on the board to set on the dishes. Each helped himself as he liked best, and to each two were twelve dishes, with great plenty of beer and wine.’)

    – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

  6. And of course, we couldn’t leave out the famous plum pudding: ‘There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all at last. Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows.’

    – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (Oh, we did. Sorry.)