I had one of those The Secret moments a few weeks ago when I first arrived in the Twin Cities. I had been thinking that perhaps I should find and join a book club since, during my employment search, I would likely have more time than usual to commit to reading (perk! glass half full! positive thinking!). My cousin-in-law promptly appeared on the scene the very next day & invited me, without my having mentioned these musings, to join her book club. Of course I said yes.
My first meeting with them was last night; the reading was Ernest Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Though I have completed an entire undergraduate major in English, I had somehow managed never to have read a Hemmingway novel until this. I consider myself enriched – three cheers for life-long learning, eh? We met at El Meson in Minneapolis. I had suggested we meet somewhere that served Spanish cuisine since so much of the novel takes place in Spain. It was one of two suggestions from my sister following my request for recommendations of Spanish persuasion. I found out the following evening that she considered her response to be a summation of her total knowledge of local Spanish establishments & that, in fact, she would NOT have recommended this particular restaurant… Details, details. At any rate, I had sent the two suggestions off to my cousin-in-law without first checking the vegan-&-unemployed-budget-friendliness of the menu (my bad) & the club selected this one from the two.
When I picked the book up from the library, Mr. Quake promptly informed me that he hated the book & that other Hemmingway novels were far better. Having a somewhat competitive spirit over certain topics in our relationship, I approached the book ready to love it. I did, for awhile. Then it quickly began to remind me of The Great Gatsby…on a European road trip. A bunch of people with inexplicable & inexhaustible streams of cash, drinking, drinking, eating, drinking. In all honesty, I would love to dissect this book with a classroom full of eager, bright eyed English majors. There is so much historical context to examine, not to mention my pervasive favorite way to slice & dice: the feminist critique. Oh, Lady Ashley, what material you provide for that! Not to mention the explicit non-explanation of Jake’s mysterious “injury” which forced him to rebuke the touch of prostitutes and ruined his chances for partnered bliss with the aforementioned. As a book club, we spoke briefly about the book and shared the results of our deeper google-search forays into the underpinnings & contextual aspects of the story. One amongst us had read that the title of the book was a pun, referring to Jake’s inability to also rise. I have yet to read up further on this…
El Meson. First impression: If I had had more cash flow at the moment & was feeling less vegan-inclined, I probably would have really enjoyed the menu. There were some vegetarian items on it that looked pretty spectacular. Pescatarians, probably extra delightful. Alas, these were not my conditions last night. I had a lovely glass of Malbec and an underwhelming salad that consisted of not even the sum total of a whole tomato with 4 slabs of cheese topped with not even the sum total of 1/4 of an avocado. All told, this set me back approximately 20 of Mr. Quake’s hard-earned dollars. The entire time, I was freezing. One of my feet was completely numb & in order to survive & avoid convulsive shivering, I was forced to keep my coat tucked up around my shoulders, as did one of my dining companions. Those that did not were wearing thick turtle-necked sweaters. That aside, the service was actually quite good & informative. Would I seek it out again? Likely not, unless I ever experience a sudden & insatiable craving for authentic paella. I suppose anything is possible.
Will I seek out Hemmingway again? Ask me after a wineskin or two.