A Bloomsday Feast

June 10, 2011

One of my favorite holidays is fast approaching. June 16th marks the 107th anniversary of Leopold Bloom’s magnificent day in Dublin as chronicled in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

“Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencod’s roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.”

Though he would certainly be at home in the current offal renaissance,  I decided not to invite Mr. Bloom for dinner. He’s a bit too fond of the strong and stinky for my palate.

“Mr Bloom ate his strips of sandwich, fresh clean bread, with relish of disgust, pungent mustard, the feety savour of green cheese.”

And later…

“His eyes unhungrily saw shelves of tins, sardines, gaudy lobsters’ claws. All the odd things people pick up for food. Out of shells, periwinkles with a pin, off trees, snails out fo the ground the French eat, out of the sea with bait on a hook. Silly fish learn nothing in a thousand years. If you didn’t know risky putting anything into your mouth. Poisonous berries. Johnny Magories. Roundness you think good. Gaudy colour warns you off. One fellow told another and so on. Try it on the dog first. Led on by the smell of the look. Tempting fruit. Ice cones. Cream. Instinct. Orangegroves for instance. Need artificial irrigation. Bleibreustrasse. Yes but what about oysters? Unsightly like a clot of phlegm. Filthy shells. Devil to open them too. Who found them out?”

Thanks to whoever that was, I will most certainly be enjoying oysters next Thursday.

While we’re being extravagant, I will complete the feast with the dish my mother first tried in New Zealand and then dreamed of recreating for almost forty years. Brioche with asparagus and hollandaise. Though not pictured, one could properly put a poached egg on top and call it an egg benedict of sorts. Eat it while reading aloud. But choose your passages with discretion, some are unfit for accompaniments.

Bloomsday would be impossible without Joyce, but it would be very difficult in this part of the world without Judge John M. Woolsey who ruled Ulysses was not obscene and could be imported. Poor Woolsey had to read the whole thing in order to make this informed decision, and he later said this was one of the most difficult periods of his life. In the end, he concluded that anyone with enough wit and perseverance to find Ulysses titillating had certainly earned their kicks (in so many words).

Judge Woolsey will be coming over to celebrate, although alas I will not recognize him.  His image is nonexistent on the internet. Information leading to his graphic representation are most welcome.


One Response to “A Bloomsday Feast”

  1. Nancy Hale said

    and your brioche was delicious.

    “Whilst in many places the effect of Ulysses on the reader undoubtedly is somewhat emetic, nowhere does it tend to be an aphrodisiac.”

    Perhaps however, a photo of Marilyn Monroe reading the novel is more erotic than the novel itself. So why not make the judge’s meal complete, by inviting her along to discuss the enigmatic book.

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