I can’t remember exactly when I first made an attempt to read Ulysses; but it was somewhere between starting to drink illegally in pubs and being able to drink legally in pubs. And I was fascinated by the Lestryogonians section where Bloom eats a gorgonzola sandwich accompanied by a glass of Burgundy.
‘Mr. Bloom ate his stripes of sandwich, fresh clean bread, with relish of disgust, pungent mustard, the feety savour of green cheese. Sips of his wine soothed his palate. Not logwood that. Tastes fuller this weather with the chill off’
I wasn’t sure about the mustard with gorgonzola, or with cheese in general, but I know some people like that that kind of thing.
That passage in Ulysses cheered me up no end. I was already a bookish lad, and I thought. ‘This is great. This is what my life could be about: reading books and thinking about food.’
At much the same time as I tackled Ulysses, I started to read Samuel Beckett’s novels, though somehow I missed, or at least had forgotten till I reread it a couple of weeks back, this passage in Murphy (1938).
‘She (Celia) entered the saloon bar of a Chef and Brewer and had a sandwich of prawn and tomato and a dock glass of white port off the zinc.’
I’ve had white port once or twice, though not off the zinc, and I know it wasn’t Borges brand, though for literary reasons I wish it had been.
It’s hard to think of white port without thinking of the song ‘White Port and Lemon Juice,’ or ‘WPLJ” originally by the 4 Deuces, then given some fame by Frank Zappa.
I don’t know if the Four Deuces ate a sandwich with their white port and lemon juice; I suspect not.
Then just the other day I was thumbing through a reprint of The Artistry of Mixing Drinks by Frank Meir of the Ritz bar in Paris (1934), and remembered it contained a poem by J. Ainsworth Th. Morgan titled ‘Ode to the Ritz Bar’ which contains these lines
‘The noise of liquor, ice and shake;
A kingly mixing knack,
A sandwich, almond or a chip,
Then ‘bottoms-up” and “Smack.”!
Of course we don’t know what cocktail our poet was thinking of, and we know there are such things as ‘cocktail sandwiches’ but it seems to me there aren’t many cocktails that go very well with a sandwich, and vice versa.