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  • Writer's pictureCláudio Giordano

Once again D. Quijote

The great works surprise us with each re-reading: Cervantes’ Don Quixote is no exception. Far from it, it is one that amazes us most. We have already talked about it here, about of course its references to wine. The wine is already in the first pages of the narrative, as a simple complement to undercooked cod and black dirt bread. However, what reader will have realized that in this passage the most weird form has been reported as Bacchus’ liqueur has ever been taken or served all over the world, namely: poured from the jar into the mouth of the diner, through a bamboo branch? And all this (food and drink) served by girls and muleteers ...

“The girls, who were not used to hearing rhetoric of this sort, had nothing to say in reply; they only asked him if he wanted anything to eat.

“I would gladly eat a bit of something,” said Don Quixote, “for I feel it would come very seasonably.”

The day happened to be a Friday, and in the whole inn there was nothing but some pieces of the fish they call in Castile “abadejo,” in Andalusia “bacallao,” and in some places “curadillo,” and in others “troutlet;” so they asked him if he thought he could eat troutlet, for there was no other fish to give him.

“If there be troutlets enough,” said Don Quixote, “they will be the same thing as a trout; for it is all one to me whether I am given eight reals in small change or a piece of eight; moreover, it may be that these troutlets are like veal, which is better than beef, or kid, which is better than goat. But whatever it be let it come quickly, for the burden and pressure of arms cannot be borne without support to the inside.”

They laid a table for him at the door of the inn for the sake of the air, and the host brought him a portion of ill-soaked and worse cooked stockfish, and a piece of bread as black and mouldy as his own armour; but a laughable sight it was to see him eating, for having his helmet on and the beaver up, he could not with his own hands put anything into his mouth unless someone else placed it there, and this service one of the ladies rendered him. But to give him anything to drink was impossible, or would have been so had not the landlord bored a reed, and putting one end in his mouth poured the wine into him through the other; all which he bore with patience rather than sever the ribbons of his helmet.

(D. Quixote, Cap. 2. Translated by John Ormsby)


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