Hemingway’s narrator has cooled his wine in the river whilst he fishes, in preparation for this lunch, and you get the sense that this is the whole point of the day. Of all the scenes in this book, it is this one that sticks in the memory. I never wanted to see a bullfight, but I would have liked to have been by the mountain stream to share this meal:
“I walked up the road and got out the two bottles of wine. They were cold. Moisture beaded on the bottles as I walked back to the trees. I spread the lunch on a newspaper, and uncorked one of the bottles and leaned the other against a tree. Bill came up drying his hands, his bag plump with ferns.
‘Let’s see that bottle,” he said. He pulled the cork, and tipped up the bottle and drank. ‘Whew! That makes my eyes ache.’
‘Let’s try it.’”
They drink the wine. They unwrap chicken and boiled eggs. They debate which came first, and give thanks for their blessings. They discuss old friends and begin to sound drunk although at least one them claims it’s not the wine, but the humidity. After lunch they sleep. It is the first of five days of fishing where…
“…the nights were cold and the days were hot, and there was always a breeze even in the heat of the day. It was hot enough so that it felt good to wade in a cold stream, and the sun dried you when you came out on the bank.”
I’m no fisherman, but I can imagine five days in the mountains, the lunchtime wine cooled by the water of the Irati River. Chicken legs and boiled eggs. Some crusty bread A pool deep enough to swim. Now that’s a picnic…
Quotes taken from the Arrow Classic publication of Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, 1994, pp.106-110. If you really don’t want to go to a bricks and mortar bookshop to get a copy, then allow us to recommend our friends at Dialogue Books who have a great website, a curated selection of books, and will deliver to wherever in the world you might be.