He was a soldier, a boxer, a hunter, a fisherman, a drinker, a father and the writer of words and stories that aimed to be, above all else, true and honest and pure.
He also knew how to make one hell of a hamburger.
Ernest Hemingway would have turned 115 this July, and the man behind acclaimed novels such as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea continues to generate reader interest and not just in literary circles.
The culinary world buzzed about his work earlier this year when the recipe for Papas Favorite Wild West Hamburger typed but with hand-written annotations was released by John F. Kennedy Memorial Library and Museum in Boston.
The baroque burger, featuring more than a dozen ingredients including India relish, mei yen powder, carrots, ham, apples, eggs, cheese and wine, stands in stark contrast to the authors famously economical prose.
But make no mistake: This burger is pure Hemingway, larger than life and full of adventure. Esquire magazine deemed it the manliest of quarter pounders, and The Times-Picayune called it beautiful yet refined.
The Wild West Burger recipe was found among thousands of digitized documents released by the library including papers congratulating Hemingway on winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.
After Hemingways death in 1961, President John F. Kennedy allowed Hemingways fourth wife, Mary Hemingway, to travel to Cuba (where the author lived from 1939 to 1960) and retrieve crates of papers and artwork, according to jfklibrary.org.
Mary Hemingway later exchanged letters with Jacqueline Kennedy to have the remainder of Ernest Hemingways work archived by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
The Paris Review published a version of the recipe in September, but a scanned image of the yellowed document released by the library in February has editing marks with additional ingredients including the grated apples, cheese and carrots.
Ernest Hemingways granddaughter Mariel, recently in Sacramento as the keynote speaker for VegFest, said she thinks she first heard about the burger recipe from her cousin Edward.
I found it amusing, she said with a chuckle, adding that she hopes to try the recipe soon with buffalo meat.
A foodie in her own right, Mariel has written several books about healthy living and eating. Ernest Hemingway died months before Mariel was born, but her father spoke often of her grandfathers love of food, she said.
She grew up eating a variety of cuisines like her grandfather, who lived in Italy, Spain, France, Cuba, Florida and Michigan.
These cuisines are reflected in the burgers wide-ranging and assertive flavor profile.
The beginning of the recipe reads: From Experimenting, Papas Favorite Wild West Hamburger. There is no reason why a fried hamburger has to turn out gray, greasy, paper-thin and tasteless. You can add all sorts of goodies and flavors to the ground beef minced mushrooms, cocktail sauce, minced garlic and onion, ground almonds, a big dollop of Piccalilli, or whatever your eye lights on. Papa prefers this combination.
Cooking at the Hemingway home was largely left to wife Mary, who, by looking at this recipe, could have been one of the first American fusion cooks, said Craig Boreth, the author of The Hemingway Cookbook, which was released in 1999 and re-released in 2012 (Chicago Review Press, $22, 240 pages).
She pulled stuff from all over the place, Boreth said, adding that she not only had to satisfy her husbands eclectic palate, but also friends and guests from around the world.
Boreths book includes food-and-drink recipes, Hemingway family photos and passages about dining from stories including A Moveable Feast, The Old Man and the Sea, and A Farewell to Arms.
If youre thinking about making Papas Favorite Wild West Hamburger, gathering the variety of ingredients is the first challenge. Heres a shortcut:
• India relish, which is basically a spicy, pickled vegetable relish, can be found at Cost Plus World Market;
• Walmart on Antelope Road carries Spice Islands Beau Monde;
• Spice Islands mei yen powder (discontinued years ago) can be homemade with nine parts salt, nine parts sugar and two parts MSG, according to an adaptation by The Paris Review. Then mix 2/3 teaspoon of the dry recipe with 1/8 teaspoon of soy sauce.
When all of the dry ingredients are mixed in the bowl, they smell like Thanksgiving stuffing.
Add the rest of the ingredients, including dousing the the meat in 1/3 cup of wine. Then let the meat sit, quietly marinating, for another 10 minutes, if possible.
Heat the oil and place four thick patties in the frying pan. The recipes cook time is spot on for a pink-in-the-middle burger.
Health-conscious folks might want to skip the MSG, but without it, the burger can be bland. Carrot shavings and capers add texture, and the apples provides a little sweetness.
As for a pairing, Boreth recommends a rough, red Italian wine.
Boreth said he admires the burger not just for whats in it, but because of its style.
It shows a great international flare that he obviously had, Boreth said.