Give me peas and pasta, give me peas and rice, I love them both. Who can resist those glorious, gratifying combinations? Who indeed, especially when fresh peas are in season! I cook Risi e Bisi often, but most of the time I refer to it in its boring vernacular: risotto with peas. What's wrong with me? What indeed? This Venetian recipe deserves its more poetic name. Yes, Risi and Bisi!
I've been reading Hemingway's "Across The River And Into The Trees," for this edition of Novel Food. Hemingway's novel is set mostly in Venice and it seems to me that a plateful of Risi e Bisi will make a very nice accompaniment to my reading endeavours. Of course, none of the characters in the novel eat risotto. They tackle a huge lobster served with mayonnaise, and they order scaloppine, and cauliflower and mashed potatoes and lots of wine. As is usual with Hemingway, there's lots of alcohol making the rounds, and lots of guns and war stories and hunting and eating of game.
The characters saunter in and out of Harry's Bar, and there's one lively passage in which the protagonist visits a Venetian market and orders about a dozen fresh oysters. He shucks them in masterful strokes and eats them on the spot ... savoring their seawater liquor ... Probably very good for his libido. Hemingway knew all about nursing a libido!
Let me stick to my Risi and Bisi. However, I do intend to order a vicarious order of oysters if they can be shucked for me by Hemingway. We'll share them on the spot, right in that very same Venetian market.
5 or 6 cups vegetable broth (or as needed)
3 or 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
I think that is why he has a last, spontaneous affair with someone so much younger than himself. He is trying to recapture a time and a youth that are gone forever. The contessa in turn is mourning her father, who died during the last war. Her attraction to Cantwell stems from a wish to be a daughter again.
Not a prudent union if it can even be called a union. Hemingway by no means convinces us that there is a real meeting of the souls between these two. He may be purposefully pointing against it. It’s ironic that Cantwell often calls his young "love" interest “daughter,” something certainly considered an unfortunate misnomer in today’s society, but alas quite acceptable in 1950, the date of the novel’s publication.
The writing did appear a bit tired in some sections. One senses the ebbing of Hemingway's powers. By this time he spent his time mostly drinking and he was in and out of depressive states, situations not conducive to the art or writing.