Travel by the Book: Hemingway’s Botin Feast


BotinWe lunched upstairs at Botin´s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta. Brett did not eat much. She never ate much. I ate a very big meal and drank three bottles [Ed. note: Three!]  of rioja alta.–“The Sun Also Rises”

Paris may be a moveable feast, but Madrid is the place to satisfy a literary appetite,

On a trip to Madrid, I read “The Sun Also Rises” as prep and was inspired to check out Botin’s restaurant after reading about Jake Barnes’ giant meal of roast pork at Botin’s restaurant. 

I set off bright and early at 8 a.m. and found the place tucked into an alley leading off one of the many impressive squares of the city. It wasn’t hard to spot, one window was decorated with illustrations of the works of Graham Greene, who mentioned Botin’s in his book, “Monsieur Quixote.”

Looks like the author of “The Third Man,” and “The Old Man and the. Sea,” both like their pork.

I did a little research and discovered that Botin’s was founded in 1725 and is listed as the world’s oldest restaurant by the Guinness World Book of Records.

Speaking of Guinness, while wandering back to my hotel, I came across a “genuine Irish pub,” with a tribute to James Joyce’s Ulysses. I never got past Chapter One of that book, but I was pleased to see another tribute to an author of renown,

If you’re interested in learning more, Elizabeth Nash has written an interesting literary guide to Madrid.

You’re probably wondering, did I try the pork? Of course not, it was eight in the morning and the place was closed. But I have done a good deal of eating in Spain, most of it carnocentric. This is what Hemingway had to say about Spanish cuisine. “The first meal in Spain was always a shock with the hors d’oeuvres, an egg course, two meat courses, vegetables, salad and dessert and fruit. You have to drink plenty of wine to get it all down.”

What he said.


Where: Calle Cuchilleros, 17, Madrid. Tel. +34 913 66 42 17


Don’t miss: If you go and don’t order at least some pork you are dead to me.