Ernest Hemingway’s Summer Camping Recipes


With regard to writ­ing, Ernest Hem­ing­way was a man of sim­ple tastes. Were I to employ a metaphor, I’d describe Hem as the kind of guy who’d pre­fer an unadorned plum from William Car­los Williams’ ice­box to Maki­ni How­ell’s Pesto Plum Piz­za with Bal­sam­ic Arugu­la.

Don’t mis­take that metaphor for real life, how­ev­er. Judg­ing by his 1920 Toron­to Star how-to on max­i­miz­ing com­fort on camp­ing vaca­tions, he would not have stood for charred wee­nies and marsh­mal­lows on a stick. Rather, a lit­tle cook­ery know-how was some­thing for a man to be proud of:

“…a fry­ing pan is a most nec­es­sary thing to any trip, but you also need the old stew ket­tle and the fold­ing reflec­tor bak­er.”

Clear­ly, the man did not trust read­ers to inde­pen­dent­ly seek out such sources as The Per­ry Ladies’ Cook­book of 1920 for instruc­tions. Instead, he painstak­ing­ly details his method for suc­cess­ful prepa­ra­tion of Trout Wrapped in Bacon, includ­ing his pre­ferred brands of veg­etable short­en­ing.

Would your mouth water less if I tell you that lit­er­ary food blog Paper and Salt has updat­ed Hem’s trout recipe à la Emer­il Lagasse, omit­ting the Crisco and toss­ing in a few fresh herbs? No camp­fire required.  You can get ‘er done in the broil­er:

Bacon-Wrapped Trout: (adapt­ed from Emer­il Lagasse)
2 (10-ounce) whole trout, cleaned and gut­ted
1/2 cup corn­meal
Salt and ground pep­per, to taste
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon, sliced
6 slices bacon
Fresh pars­ley, for gar­nish

1. Pre­heat broil­er and set oven rack 4 to 6 inch­es from heat. With a paper tow­el, pat trout dry inside and out. Dredge out­side of each fish in corn­meal, then sea­son cav­i­ty with salt and pep­per. Place 4 sprigs of thyme and 2 lemon slices inside each fish.

2. Wrap 3 bacon slices around the mid­dle of each fish, so that the edges over­lap slight­ly. Line a roast­ing pan with alu­minum foil, and place fish on pan. Broil until bacon is crisp, about 5 min­utes. With a spat­u­la, care­ful­ly flip fish over and cook anoth­er 5 min­utes, until flesh is firm.

Like any thought­ful host­ess (sim­i­le!), Hem­ing­way did­n’t leave his guests to starve whilst wait­ing for the main event. His choice of hors d’oeu­vres was lit­tle pan­cakes made from a mix, and again, he leaves noth­ing to chance, or Aunt Jemi­ma’s instruc­tions…

With the pre­pared pan­cake flours you take a cup­ful of pan­cake flour and add a cup of water. Mix the water and flour and as soon as the lumps are out it is ready for cook­ing. Have the skil­let hot and keep it well greased. Drop the bat­ter in and as soon as it is done on one side loosen it in the skil­let and flip it over. Apple but­ter, syrup or cin­na­mon and sug­ar go well with the cakes.

Here, Paper and Salt’s Nicole Vil­leneuve does us all a sol­id by doing away with prepack­aged mix. Bonus points for using ingre­di­ents that would’ve been avail­able in 1920’s Michi­gan, beloved site of Hem­ing­way’s trout and pan­cake cam­pouts.

Corn Cakes:
1 1/2 cups corn ker­nels (either fresh off the cob or thawed)
2 green onions, white parts only, coarse­ly chopped
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup stone-ground yel­low corn­meal
1 tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der
1/2 tea­spoon red chile flakes
1/2 tea­spoon salt
1 tea­spoon sug­ar
1 egg, light­ly beat­en
2/3 cup but­ter­milk
2 table­spoons but­ter, melt­ed and cooled
Canola oil, for fry­ing

1. In a food proces­sor, add corn and green onions and pulse 4 to 5 times, until fine­ly chopped. In a large bowl, stir togeth­er corn mix­ture, flour, corn­meal, bak­ing pow­der, red chile flakes, salt, and sug­ar.

2. In a small bowl, com­bine egg, but­ter­milk, and but­ter. Add to corn mix­ture, stir­ring until just com­bined.

3. Coat a large skil­let or pan­cake grid­dle with oil. Over medi­um heat, spoon bat­ter onto pan in 1/4 cups and fry until cakes are gold­en on both sides, 1 to 2 min­utes per side.

Vil­leneuve opts out of recre­at­ing Hem­ing­way’s dessert, an al fres­co fruit pie so good “your pals … will kiss you” (pro­vid­ed, of course, that they’re French­men). Because I, too, aim high­er than wee­nies and marsh­mal­lows, here are his lengthy, rather self-con­grat­u­la­to­ry  instruc­tions:

In the bak­er, mere man comes into his own, for he can make a pie that to his bush appetite will have it all over the prod­uct that moth­er used to make, like a tent. Men have always believed that there was some­thing mys­te­ri­ous and dif­fi­cult about mak­ing a pie. Here is a great secret. There is noth­ing to it. We’ve been kid­ded for years. Any man of aver­age office intel­li­gence can make at least as good a pie as his wife.

All there is to a pie is a cup and a half of flour, one-half tea­spoon­ful of salt, one-half cup of lard and cold water. That will make pie crust that will bring tears of joy into your camp­ing partner’s eyes.

Mix the salt with the flour, work the lard into the flour, make it up into a good work­man­like dough with cold water. Spread some flour on the back of a box or some­thing flat, and pat the dough around a while. Then roll it out with what­ev­er kind of round bot­tle you pre­fer. Put a lit­tle more lard on the sur­face of the sheet of dough and then slosh a lit­tle flour on and roll it up and then roll it out again with the bot­tle.

Cut out a piece of the rolled out dough big enough to line a pie tin. I like the kind with holes in the bot­tom. Then put in your dried apples that have soaked all night and been sweet­ened, or your apri­cots, or your blue­ber­ries, and then take anoth­er sheet of the dough and drape it grace­ful­ly over the top, sol­der­ing it down at the edges with your fin­gers. Cut a cou­ple of slits in the top dough sheet and prick it a few times with a fork in an artis­tic man­ner.

Put it in the bak­er with a good slow fire for forty-five min­utes and then take it out.

Remem­ber, campers:  The real woods­man is the man who can be real­ly com­fort­able in the bush. — Ernest Hem­ing­way

 via Paper and Salt

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ernest Hemingway’s Favorite Ham­burg­er Recipe

Sev­en Tips From Ernest Hem­ing­way on How to Write Fic­tion

Ernest Hem­ing­way Cre­ates a Read­ing List for a Young Writer, 1934

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author who once designed a course on out­door cook­ing, just so she could order pie irons online. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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