Saturday, 16 March 2013

For Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961),

"Brett and Bill were sitting on barrels surrounded by the dancers. Everybody had his arms on everybody else's shoulders, and they were all singing. Mike was sitting at a table with several men in their shirt-sleeves, eating from a bowl of tuna fish, chopped onions and vinegar. They were all drinking wine and mopping up the oil and vinegar with pieces of bread."
 -- The Sun Also Rises

Nothing says 'Spanish party' like tuna and onions.

Hold up: let's think about that. Why would it be that, on the opening of the big bull-fighting Pamplona fiesta in Hemingway's novel, at the start of a week of drunken debauchery, the characters would eat such traditionally kiss-repelling foods as tuna and onions? Even aside from the effect on potential paramours, surely tuna and onions are not really party food?

But that's what Mike eats as the fiesta gears up: tuna, onions, vinegar, oils, mopped up with bread and washed down with plenty of wine. Hmm. This is starting to sound good actually.

What if the bread was slices of hot, toasty garlic batard? And the tuna and onions were mixed into a lemony, capery dip? And what if the wine was cold, and crisp, and perfectly matched to New Zealand's current very-good-imitation-of-Spanish heat?

Mmm, bready!
OK, I'm starting to see the appeal of the tuna-onion party food combo. Only trouble is, unlike Hemingway's hedonistic characters in The Sun Also Rises, I'm not celebrating the running of the bulls in Pamplona, and don't really have an excuse for party food.

Solution: make tuna dip. Put on acoustic guitar music. Engage in a very awkward, nerdy white girl's version of flamenco dancing. Rationalise that this is New Zealand, and even if we don't have a running of the bulls, we do occasionally have accidental escapes of the dairy cows. Eat.

Spanish Tuna Dip

Serves 2 as a snack or 1 as a meal


1 can (90g) tuna, drained
90g cream cheese, softened
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp capers
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 spring onion, finely chopped
Slices of hot garlic batard (or other bread)


Fork together the tuna and cream cheese, adding the oil to help it all come together. Stir through the capers, lemon juice, and spring onion. Serve the dip with plenty of bread and have a bottle of cold white wine handy. Matador companions optional.

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