Ernest Hemingway’s long-forgotten burger recipe shows us he could write damn good prose even when he wasn't trying.

Written by Cole Schafer


If you’ve ever read Hemingway, you know he could have been a truly splendid food writer. Thankfully, he directed his talents towards writing novels like A Moveable Feast instead.

However, when reading novels like the above, I’m constantly mesmerized by the way in which he could bring food to life with his iconic punchy prose.

Just look at how he described oysters…

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine…”

But, oysters aside, we see this love for food in full form, not in his novels but in a recipe he once typed out that he titled…

“Papas Favorite Burger”.

For those unfamiliar with Hemingway, his nickname was “Papa”, hence the name… “Papas Favorite Burger”.

I’ve attached a photograph of the recipe down below:


I know that’s a bitch to read.

So, I’ve taken the liberty of typing the entire thing out…

*Ernest Hemingway is typing now*

From experimenting. Papa’s Favorite Hamburger.

There is no reason why a fried hamburger has to turn out gray, greasy, paper-thin and tasteless. You can add all sorts of goodies and flavors to the ground beef — minced mushrooms, cocktail sauce, minced garlic and onion, chopped almonds, a big dollop of Piccalilli, or whatever your eye lights on. Papa prefers this combination.


  • 1 lb. ground lean beef
  • 2 cloves, minced garlic
  • 2 little green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping teaspoon, India relish
  • 2 tablespoons, capers
  • 1 heaping teaspoon, Spice Islands Sage
  • Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning — ½ teaspoon
  • Spice Islands Mei Yen Powder — ½ teaspoon 
  • 1 egg, beaten in a cup with a fork
  • About one-third cup dry red or white wine
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

What to do.

Break up the meat with a fork and scatter the garlic, onion, and dry seasonings over it, then mix them into the meat with a fork or your fingers. Let the bowl of meat sit out of the icebox for ten or fifteen minutes while you set the table and make the salad. Add the relish, capers, everything else including wine and let the meat sit, quietly marinating, for another ten minutes if possible.

Now make four fat, juicy patties with your hands. The patties should be an inch thick, and soft in texture but not runny. Have the oil in your frying-pan hot but not smoking when you drop in the patties and then turn the heat down and fry the burgers about four minutes. Take the pan off the burner and turn the heat high again. Flip the burgers over, put the pan back on the hot fire, then after one minute, turn the heat down again and cook another three minutes. Both sides of the burgers should be crispy brown and the middle pink and juicy.


If you don’t have the time nor the ingredients, take a look at Dean Martin’s burger recipe. It’s a bit more manageable.

Anyway, cheers.

By Cole Schafer (but most Ernest Hemingway).

P.S. I write more about Ernest Hemingway than anyone I know and if you’d like to read more on this prolific writer and human check out this, this and this.