Ernest Hemingway is remembered for his drinking—not his eating—habits. But when he wasn’t brawling in bars or writing the truest sentence that he knew, he also liked to hunt, cook, and consume big game.
In 1933, Hemingway spent three months on a hunting safari in Kenya and Tanzania. The trip provided him with fodder for his novel The Green Hills of Africa, along with the ultimate hunter's trophy: a lion.
In The Hemingway Cookbook, author Craig Boreth shares Hemingway’s personal recipe for fillet of lion. Papa understates the recipe’s most difficult portion (“First obtain your lion”), but he gets oddly detailed about breading and seasoning. And like any cocktail enthusiast, Hemingway understands that everything’s better with a citrus garnish—even steak from the Serengeti.
In retrospect, it only makes sense that Hemingway’s preferred cooking method would be similar to his writing: simple, to the point, and, well, full of meat.
Ernest Hemingway’s Fillet of Lion
From The Hemingway Cookbook by Craig Boreth
"First obtain your lion. Skin him out and remove the two strips of tenderloin from either side of the backbone. These should hang overnight in a tree out of reach of hyenas and should be wrapped in cheesecloth to prevent them being hit by blowflies. "The following day, either for breakfast, lunch or dinner, slice the tenderloin as though you were cutting small tenderloin steaks. You may cut them as thin or as thick as you like, and if you should be fortunate enough to have eggs, which will usually be brought in by natives for whom you have killed the lion, if these natives possess chickens, dip the small steaks in beaten and seasoned eggs and then in either corn meal or cracker meal or bread crumbs. Then grill the steaks over the coals of an open fire. "If you have no eggs, simply grill the steaks, basting them preferably with the lard made from eland fat, after having salted and peppered them liberally, but not using too much salt to destroy the delicate flavor. "If you are fortunate enough to have lemon or sour orange in camp, serve a half of lemon or sour orange with each portion of lion steak."