Though James Joyce’s Ulysses properly begins with,
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
—Introibo ad altare Dei . (3)
I confess to enjoying the taste more of the opening lines of Chapter 4.
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.
Such a foodie chapter at eight in the morning on June 16, 1904 at number seven Eccles Street. Leopold thinks breakfast as Joyce thinks Calypso who kept Odysseus on her island–a willing/unwilling lover. Mixing digestion and defecation. Is this Leopold?
Kidneys were in his mind as he moved about the kitchen softly, righting her breakfast things on the humpy tray. Gelid light and air were in the kitchen but out of doors gentle summer morning everywhere. Made him feel a bit peckish. (45)
Hunger walks, crawls, laps, slithers, creeps, runs, swims and leaps through Joyce’s book of drink, food, sex, digestion, urination. All the blood and dung one could want. And point of menu, the wonders of offal cause Bloom’s mouth to water. As does mine. As does mine with skin, head, tongue, ears, brain, sweetbreads, lungs, heart, blood, liver, stomach, spleen, kidneys, intestines, fat, feet, bones, tail, udder, testicles, gizzard and cockscomb. Bloom goes out shopping.
He halted before Dlugacz’s window, staring at the hanks of sausages, polonies, black and white. Fifteen multiplied by. The figures whitened in his mind, unsolved: displeased, he let them fade. The shiny links, packed with forcemeat, fed his gaze and he breathed in tranquilly the lukewarm breath of cooked spicy pig’s blood.
Polony is a sausage similar to a mortadella utilizing cubes of pork fat from Bologna, Italy. Sausages. So many sausages I’ve cooked and devoured. Sausages in gumbo, sausages when arriving in Sweden, sausages at a Coney Island, sausages and murder, sausages out of time. Blooom continues.
A kidney oozed bloodgouts on the willowpatterned dish: the last. He stood by the nextdoor girl at the counter. Would she buy it too, calling the items from a slip in her hand? Chapped: washingsoda. And a pound and a half of Denny’s sausages. His eyes rested on her vigorous hips. (48)
For Bloom, a kidney and a young woman’s hips shape an erotic morning outing. A body, be it sheep or human, offers voyeuristic delights not to be missed. The world presents itself on a plate and in a crooked skirt. Bloom’s eyes note detail, color and movement. The pleasures of the table are not strangers to this blog. Something quite orgiastic about food laid out for mouths to devour as shoulders, arms, breasts, hips and legs sit and eat and are eaten. Oh my. Consider Henri Matisse’s drawing of Calypso from his series based on Ulysses, which it appears the artist never read. Sigh.
His hand accepted the moist tender gland and slid it into a sidepocket. Then it fetched up three coins from his trousers’ pocket and laid them on the rubber prickles. They lay, were read quickly and quickly slid, disc by disc, into the till. (49)
Bloom walks home working home economics in his mind, turning memories over and over, finishing with images of death as he enters to his wife calling out his name, then sorts morning mail, and brings bread and butter and tea to Molly. It’s in their bedroom that the kidney returns.
–There’s a smell of burn, she said. Did you leave something on the fire?
–The kidney! he cried suddenly.
He fitted the book roughly into his inner pocket and, stubbing his toes against the broken commode, hurried out towards the smell, stepping hastily down the stairs with a flurried stork’s legs. Pungent smoke shot up in an angry jet from the side of the pan. By prodding a prong of the fork under the kidney he detached it and turned it turtle on its back. Only a little burnt. He tossed it off the pan on to a plate and let the scanty brown gravy trickle over it. (53)
Which brings me today’s meal for Bloomsday. The son doesn’t like inner organs that much, so we’ve decided on a Swedish version of an Irish Stew, featuring meatballs pressing and squeezing ground beef, lamb and pork together. Bloom Balls, I call them. Slowly fried in butter with cream added at the end, full of salt and black pepper, oregano and thyme, dill and paprika. Small boiling potatoes boil and then roast in olive oil for a time. Eventually all combined with melted gorgonzola on top, a nod to the sandwich Bloom will eat at Davy Bryne’s Pub in Chapter Eight. Excellent. Time to pour a Guinness.
Time to plate meatballs, potatoes, gorgonzola and parsley.
Time to drink Guinness, eat Bloom Balls, while outside under the Swedish sun on Bloomsday. Bon Appétit!