The Old Man and the Sea

A 1952 novella by Ernest Hemingway that tells the story of Santiago, a poor Cuban fisherman, who has not caught a fish in several months and lives very modestly in a small shack on the beach front. His only real company is a young boy who he teaches fishing techniques to and in return is provided some basic supplies. He goes out to sea alone where he hooks a giant marlin, which he fights day and night, eventually catching it while growing to respect and identify with its struggle. After days of struggle in which he has allowed it to drag him further and further out to sea it finally submits to its wounds and dies. He lashes it to the side of his boat and tries to take it home to sell. Unfortunately, it is eaten by sharks, despite the old man’s valiant effort to fight them off. Defeated, the old man walks home and collapses in bed. It could be viewed as a moral victory, since he’s proved that he can still catch fish but in the closing paragraphs an American tourist confuses the now skeletal frame of the marlin for that of a shark showing how the personal victory is not appreciated by wider society although the boy and other fishermen acknowledge this achievement.

Due to the symbolism, relatively easy prose and short length, The Old Man and the Sea is a mainstay of high school English courses, and is perhaps one of the most widely-read books in the United States. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and pretty much sealed the deal on Hemingway’s 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. It was adapted into a 1958 film with Spencer Tracy and into a 1990 miniseries with Anthony Quinn.

This is the first time I read a work of Hemingway’s. It was a very easy to read piece and I did so in a single sitting as it was only about 90 pages long. Very often I have heard the quotes of how he seems fixated on depictions of manliness and uses very simple language. It brings the mind the image of a man stood upon the shoreline with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and breaking open nuts, bear handed, in the other. He called this writing technique “the theory of omission” or “The Iceberg Principle.” While some authors criticized him for it, his style is widely considered to be very effective. Hemingway attributed his terse style to his training as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star because he had to communicate from Europe to North America by the expensive medium of cable, it was naturally expected that he should compose his reports to be as succinct as possible while including all the story’s salient information.

“It was considered a virtue not to talk unnecessarily at sea…”

When I was in school the English teachers always found it hard to find pieces which intrigued the more traditionally inclined boys who preferred to be outside playing sport rather than sat reading and analysing fictional events. Often when asked to write comprehension essays, utilising the various narrative techniques we were learning, the teachers would bemoan how they ended up with multiple stories about football matches or other sporting events with little variety. I reflect now if perhaps studying the works of Hemingway might have caught their attention and, if not drawing them to become avid readers which admittedly would be a Sisyphus like endeavour, at the very least would indicate to them that not all respected literary classics are verbose and focused on societal or emotional content which is an anathema to teenage boys asserting themselves in order to impress upon others their masculinity. Hemingway is a ‘man’s man’ of a writer and using his work would be indulgent but at least show results by getting the attention of boys who find themselves disengaged in English lessons as they cannot identify with the subject matter they are presented with within the studied texts such as the works of Shakespeare.

“Then he began to pity the great fish that he had hooked. He is wonderful and strange and who knows how old he is, he thought. Never have I had such a strong fish nor one who acted so strangely. Perhaps he is too wise to jump. He could ruin me by jumping or by a wild rush. But perhaps he has been hooked many times before and he knows that this is how he should make his fight. He cannot know it is only one man against him, nor that it is an old man. But what a great fish he is and what will he bring in the market if the flesh is good. He took the bait like a male and he pulls like a male and his fight has no panic in it. I wonder if he has plans or if he is just as desperate as I am?”

To me the piece is a reflection of Hemingway’s fears of aging just as D H Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ reflected Lawrence’s fears of being unable to physically satisfy his wife after a near fatal attack of malaria and tuberculosis made him an invalid for the remainder of his life. Hemingway, in his novella, meditates on what will happen when he is no longer physically capable of leading the rugged lifestyle that he almost seemed to feel was all consuming both as a public perception of him but also his opinion of himself. Santiago for the most part is the standard Hemingway protagonist, a competent, utterly determined paragon of manliness. But he’s also ultimately an old man and the ravages of time have weakened him thus, despite his herculean display of willpower, he still is ultimately defeated with only a pyrrhic moral victory in the end. He proves to the other fishermen he still has what it takes to compete with them though it almost leads to his death and is meaningless to the wider society represented by the American tourists who misidentify the remains of the marlin. Hemingway was starting to age around the time he wrote Old Man, and it came right after he wrote Across the River and into the Trees, a book which got significant bad press. In a way, Santiago is probably something of a reflection upon the way Hemingway felt about himself and the hopes that he could remain ‘himself’ to the very end – which he ultimately did by committing suicide at the age of 61 rather than face old age and the deterioration which would inevitably come with it.

“The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert.”

“I hate a cramp, he thought. It is a treachery of one’s own body.”

“What kind of a hand is that,’ he said. ‘Cramp then if you want. Make yourself into a claw. It will do you no good.”

“You did not do so badly for something worthless,’ he said to his left hand. ‘But there was a moment when I could not find you.”

Santiago seeks challenge and to prove himself to society. In the marlin he finds a worthy opponent and when returning deems the blue shark, the first to attack the marlin lashed to the boat, as another. However after this initial attacker which Santiago is successful in killing he is later attacked by brown sharks who he speaks more and more disparagingly of as they are, it seems, scavengers taking advantage of his weakened state. Again this symbolism of the ravages of age and the fears of being at the whims of younger foes, which in his prime he could have easily fended off, arises yet again. There does seems an element of prejudice when comparing the blue shark and the brown, lesser sharks, but that may just be my interpretation in there being some defining distinction between what makes a worthy or unworthy opponent. A one on one fight is honourable while the scavengers appearing in groups are detestable in his view as they take advantage of a weakened individual.

“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

“It is not bad,” he said. “And pain does not matter to a man.”

“They would hit a man in the water, if they were hungry, even if the man had no smell of fish blood nor of fish slime on him. “Ay,” the old man said. “Galanos. Come on galanos.”

“You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?”

In conclusion: It was a very easy to read piece and I did so in a single sitting. It felt both a worthwhile read and yet at the same time underwhelming. You have the easy to follow story of a man’s struggle and the implicit commentary on aging through its symbolism but what do I take away from this? Aging is bad. You must fight it. It is inevitable. Others will come and take advantage of you. All your achievements will ultimately garner you no real respect. Loss and death are amongst the major themes in his writing and nowhere is this clearer than in the endeavours of Santiago.

“His choice had been to stay in the deep dark water far out beyond all snares and traps and treacheries. My choice was to go there to find him beyond all people. Beyond all people in the world. Now we are joined together and have been since noon. And no one to help either one of us.”

“Then he was sorry for the great fish… How many people will he feed?.. But are they worthy to eat him? No, of course, not. There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity.”

It is a novella for people who don’t like reading more poetic language but prefer facts – to be told bluntly what is happening without digression. However through Hemingway’s use of language he still delivers greater meaning beneath the seemingly basic surface level he presents for those with an eye to perceive it. It is the male equivalent of chick literature on the surface level and yet a powerful mediation on universal themes should the reader take the time to acknowledge that economy of language does not equal a simplification of message. This is a good story to get young, active, boys to understand why literature is important but I doubt it will inspire them to then go on to read his other works leaving this to be remembered by them as a ‘man vs nature’ story only sadly.

“He spat into the ocean and said, “Eat that, galanos. And make a dream you’ve killed a man.”

Hemingway’s writing style is deceptive. His powerful economy of words masks a nuanced narrative which would take other writers far longer to depict and ultimately would not have the same impact. Ultimately there have been many imitators incapable of having the same impact which has diluted people’s perception of Hemingway’s prose but nowhere will you be shown the power of economised word use than in this novella.

“He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach.”

“He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride.”


I had a bit of a break from blogging. On the bright side it means anything uploaded at least will have been considered though perhaps not editted and drafted as well as it might have been if I was not so busy.

I enjoyed this novella but there are other works which I enjoy far more. this is a good introduction for traditional gender role orientated boys to the world of literature but I find Hemingway has always been at odds with himself and his desired audience. Journalism, going out and hunting a story down in the classic patriarchal role of hunter/gather is fine but creative writing has always, in the media, seemed to be portrayed as a feminine, not a masculine, pursuit. The sort of men Hemingway depicts are not men who would read his literature ironically. He idolises figures who would respect him as a man, if they knew his life story involving amongst other things the Spanish Civil War, but would never read anything he wrote despite its inherent masculine orientated world view.

Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate Tasting Collection

24 miniature bars of milk, dark and white chocolate with a small dark 70% chocolate bar and tasting notes

“A tasting journey around the world to discover the intense and refined flavours of Green & Black’s.”

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So I got this a while back and worked my way through each of the small bars in the collection. You get two small, some might call premium ‘fun size’, bars of each flavour and a ‘over the counter’ small bar of the 70% cocoa dark chocolate version. Along with these is a small fold out booklet with tasting suggestions, where you could use the particular flavouring of the chocolate and drinks to serve with them. Kind of pretentious. Kind of made to be reviewed by a food reviewing blog. Kind of ironically there isn’t too much to say on each flavour and the taking notes are more enticing in their description than my blunt version. I taste and then look what the ‘tasting suggestion’ says. Just like wine tasting you will inevitably think the obvious ‘yup that looks, tastes and smells like wine/chocolate, alright it’s definitely wine/chocolate… I am tasting what I expected to taste.’ I am being pedantic but you will know what you are tasting when you select a bar as there is no ‘mystery’ flavours or obscure naming confusing you expectations here. There is a map on the inside of the lid indicating where the ingredients come from which adds some interesting additional information for extra value.

The reviews are going to one or two lines, rather than my usual longer analysis, as this post is incredibly long already just having the basic ingredient information and tasting notes alone.

“Tasting is a special art. Each bar has its own distinct character comprised of unique aromas, textures and flavours… With these tips you can explore and enjoy a truly inspiring experience.”

395g Soil Association – Organic
Fairtrade
Suitable for vegetarians

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DARK 70%: DARK CHOCOLATE WITH 70% COCOA SOLIDS
ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE WITH 70% COCOA SOLIDS
ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE: MINIMUM COCOA SOLIDS 70%

Ingredients: Cocoa mass #, raw cane sugar #, cocoa butter #, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract #, May Contain nuts, milk
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Sugar, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 99%.

Review: Dark chocolate is dark chocolate. Tastes like cooking chocolate. I like extremely dark chocolate. It’s very bitter and savoury. Like the taste texture of black coffee though obviously not the same taste.

Tasting Notes: Let a single square slowly melt and see how many flavours you can pick out: rich nuttiness, roasted coffee, savoury notes, bitter cherry, smooth and sweet vanilla… Our original dark chocolate is anything but plain.

MILK CHOCOLATE WITH ANGLESEY SEA SALT

ORGANIC MILK CHOCOLATE: MINIMUM COCOA SOLIDS 37%, MINIMUM MILK SOLIDS 24%
Ingredients: Raw cane sugar #, whole milk powder #, cocoa mass #, cocoa butter #, Anglesey sea salt (0.7%), emulsifier (Soya lecithin), vanilla extract #. May contain nuts.
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Sugar, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 73%.

Review: Luxurious milk chocolate. Melts in the mouth. Grains of salt. I like it. You may not. Anglesey is in North Wales so have to support the hometeam (but I would like this anyway). A unique flavour for the tasting collection unlike many of the others which you will find have been made by other companies to the point of being ubiquitous.

Tasting Notes: The delicate flakes of Anglesey Sea Salt are recognised as some of the best in the world, and we’d accept nothing less for our delicious chocolate. They really help to bring out the caramel notes in our 37% cocoa milk chocolate, and delight your taste buds with that moreish balance of sweet and savoury.

DARK CHOCOLATE WITH TOFFEE PIECES

ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE WITH TOFFEE PIECES

Ingredients: Cocoa mass #, raw cane sugar #, toffee # (15%) (raw cane sugar #, glucose syrup #, butter (from milk) #, palm oil #, molasses #, natural flavouring). cocoa butter #, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract #, May Contain nuts, milk
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Sugar, Molasses, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 93%.

Review: Once as a student I decided to make caramel. I knew it was just melted sugar. We did this in the kitchen. What we had was an exceptionally bitter substance the colour of a brown glass bottle. Suffice to say I was the only one to consume anything more than a single lick of it. That is exactly what the toffee in this is like. Little shards of burnt toffee. The chocolate melts away like some sort of intentionally weak substance as if the intention was to harmfully prank someone by offering them some of this and, once the chocolate fades away quickly to the point it does literally melt on the tongue upon contact and the shards expel the taste of charred toffee. I like it but I like it for reminding me of the past, of a nostalgia that only I have, one I hoped never to remember. Masochistic. This might actually be even more to my taste than the extremely high coca content dark chocolate.

Tasting Notes: We add a nice touch of molasses to our burnt toffee pieces to give a richer flavour that stands up to our intense chocolate. Made in Yorkshire, their textured crunch is just as enjoyable as their bitter-sweet taste.

HAZELNUT & CURRANT
DARK CHOCOLATE WITH HAZELNUTS & CURRANTS

Ingredients: Cocoa mass #, raw cane sugar #, currants # (12%) chopped roasted hazelnuts # (8%), cocoa butter #, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract #, May Contain nuts, milk
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 79%.

Review: The chocolate is good in a bitter way. The currants flavour intermingles with it successfully. The hazelnut is just kind of there. Just bits of non-flavour you have to choose through. It’s the kind of bar that would be good for hiking expeditions as its trial mix plus chocolate to keep your energy levels up but it always reminds me of that prank you can play by melting a bar of fruit and nut in your hand and asking a person in the next toilet cubicle for some toilet paper. Have never heard of anyone ever doing it but it reminds me of that.

Tasting Notes: The combination of the three main ingredients equals more than the sum of their parts: the bittersweet chocolate hits you first as it melts, followed by the roasted crunch of hazelnut and finally the sweet-sour currants bringing everything together in perfect harmony.

DARK CHOCOLATE WITH GINGER
ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE WITH CRYSTALLISED GINGER PIECES

Ingredients: Cocoa mass #, raw cane sugar #, crystallised ginger # (20%) (stem ginger #, sugar #), cocoa butter #, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract #, May Contain nuts, milk
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 79%.

Reviews: The chocolate seems overly dried out and the ginger is weak compared to other chocolate and ginger bars I have tried. I like it but there are better alternatives out there.

Tasting Notes: 60% dark chocolate comes through initially and, as it melts away, is followed by the gentle warmth of ginger. Our crystalised pieces come from China, and offer a taste that lingers on the palate, until replaced with the next chunk’s chocolaty opening…

MILK CHOCOLATE WITH BUTTERSCOTCH
ORGANIC MILK CHOCOLATE WITH BUTTERSCOTCH PIECES

Ingredients: Raw cane sugar #, whole milk powder #, cocoa mass #, cocoa butter #, butterscotch (10%), (raw cane sugar #, glucose syrup #, butter (from milk) #, palm oil #, molasses #, natural flavouring), emulsifier (Soya lecithin), vanilla extract #. May contain nuts.
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Sugar, Molasses, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 72%.

Review: Rapidly melting in the mouth chocolate. It lines the mouth with its butterscotch flavour. Then the small pieces of butterscotch are left to chew on. (Side note – the tasting suggestion uses the phrase ‘mouthfeel’ without irony… is this Adventure Time or something?!)

Tasting notes: Our butterscotch pieces are expertly made in Yorkshire, and are the star ingredient in one of our most indulgent bars. As well as the crunchy pieces, we add some of the finer butterscotch ‘dust’, so that the flavour runs throughout the bar, leaving you with a buttery mouthfeel at the end.

MILK CHOCOLATE WITH 37% COCOA SOLIDS
ORGANIC MILK CHOCOLATE

Ingredients: Raw cane sugar #, whole milk powder #, cocoa mass #, cocoa butter #, emulsifier (Soya lecithin), vanilla extract #. May contain nuts.
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Sugar, Molasses, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 74%.

Review: Milk chocolate is milk chocolate. Nice but nothing special. Easily melts in the mouth. Very nice… nicer than most…. But its milk chocolate.

Tasting notes: Our milk chocolate is rich in both cocoa and milk, for those that like a darker shade of milk chocolate. As well as the bittersweet cocoa flavours, you’ll discover dark caramel notes, and even subtle fruity flavours of figs and dates.

MILK CHOCOLATE WITH RAISINS & HAZELNUTS
ORGANIC MILK CHOCOLATE WITH RAISINS & HAZELNUTS

Ingredients: Raw cane sugar #, whole milk powder #, cocoa mass #, cocoa butter #, raisins # (12%) (raisins #, palm oil #), chopped roasted hazelnuts # (8%), emulsifier (Soya lecithin), vanilla extract #. May contain other nuts.
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Sugar, Molasses, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 59%.

Review: There’s something in my milk chocolate. What it is I cannot tell. Oh wait… slightly sickly sweet moment. Sombre release of nut flavour when I bite into the chunk in the bar… on the whole I never liked nut and fruit chocolates growing up as it seemed to be missing the point that you wanted the chocolate – as if you were being punished by having bits of ‘better’ food inserted into your treat. Years later and I still feel like this. I want chocolate. Flavoured chocolate also. Not chocolate plus other stuff. If I wanted that I would go buy a biscuit. I always remember that there is a prank where you melt a nutty chocolate bar in your hand and pretend you act like you wiped your backside with you bare hand. I have never heard of anyone doing it but it makes me think of that prank.

Tasting notes: Milk chocolate is often described as containing ‘brown fruit’ flavours. That’s why the raisins almost blend into the chocolate, adding a quite distinctive texture, yet a surprisingly complementary taste sensation. The nutty crunch of hazelnuts adds a third texture and a welcomed savoury finish to the bar.

MILK CHOCOLATE WITH ALMONDS
ORGANIC MILK CHOCOLATEWITH CHOPPED ALMONDS

Ingredients: Raw cane sugar #, chopped roasted almonds # (23%) whole milk powder #, cocoa mass #, cocoa butter #, emulsifier (Soya lecithin), vanilla extract #. May contain other nuts.
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Sugar, Molasses, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 57%.

Review: almonds. The texture always makes me feel like I am eating plastic wrapping. If you like almonds and chocolate you will like this but the texture to me personally is extremely offputting.

Tasting notes: Leaving the skins on, and roasting just to the right amount, helps to really encapsulate the savoury nuttiness of our almonds. As it melts, the cocoa-rich milk chocolate coats every nutty surface giving a sublime taste and texture combination, with a fragrant almond finish that carries on and on.

DARK CHOCOLATE WITH HAZELNUTS
ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE WITH HAZELNUTS

Ingredients: Cocoa mass #, raw cane sugar #, chopped roasted hazelnuts # (20%), cocoa butter #, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract #, May contain other nuts, milk.
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 79%.

Review: As above. I am not a fan of nuts in chocolate. The hazelnuts drain the taste of the chocolate away.

Tasting notes: The rich flavour of toasted hazelnuts is the perfect partner for the cocoa-richness of our dark chocolate, also working beautifully with the fruity notes from our special Trinitario cocoa beans.

WHITE CHOCOLATE WITH 30% COCOA SOLIDS
ORGANIC WHITE CHOCOLATE

Ingredients: Raw cane sugar #, cocoa butter #, whole milk powder #, emulsifier (Soya lecithin), vanilla pod #, vanilla extract #. May contain nuts.
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 71%.

Review: The milky bar kid is strong and tough, and milky bars are only good enough. Its white chocolate. A bit smoother than others I have had before. The tasting notes contain a spelling mistake. White chocolate isn’t my thing.

Tasting notes: The secret to our white chocolate is a generous dose of Madagascan vanilla. You can see the vanilla seeds speckled throughout the bar, which along with the organic whole milk, help to round of the sweetness of the cocoa butter-rich chocolate.

DARK CHOCOLATE WITH 85% COCOA SOLIDS
ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE WITH 85% COCOA SOLIDS

Ingredients: Cocoa mass #, cocoa butter #, fat-reduced cocoa powder #, raw cane sugar #, vanilla extract #. May Contain nuts, milk
# = Certified Organic, Cocoa, Sugar, Vanilla: traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 100%.

Review: Cooking chocolate. You put it in your mouth and there is bitterness. If you have never had such dark chocolate before you wouldn’t even think this is chocolate. It is near tasteless if you go chewing through it quickly. Let it dwell and there is the taste… like carcinogens. Like the nice sensation when you eat something burnt in that infinitesimally minute line between the cooked and carbonated sections. This is the black pudding of chocolate… except its good for you as it has none of the dairy of other chocolate.

Tasting notes: We use 85% cocoa solids for an intense hit of cocoa with just enough sugar to balance the bitterness and acidity, resulting in an almost savoury note. The generous organic vanilla content naturally seasons the chocolate and softens its bitterness, slightly increasing perceptions of subtle sweetness.

Visit http://www.info.fairtrade.net
PL-EKO-07 Non-EU Agriculture
Soil Association Symbol Holder P11117. Organic Certification PL-EKO-07. This product meets the Soil Association standards for organic food and farming

Overall review: A nice gift or way to try new flavours without investing in a whole bar that may not be to your liking. I would suggest you eat them as soon as possible as there are not the various preservatives you will find in many other bars and the chocolate with oxygenate over a short period (this however is more an appearance issue than one of affecting the taste). It suggests not eating more than six varieties on any one day so your palate doesn’t become desensitised but really these are ‘just got in from work’ snacks unless you have gatherings in which this tasting collection would be a desired pastime with friends or family. A nice idea to entice people to try premium chocolate but overall I would say if you want a range of tastes going with a generic box of chocolates is a safer bet compared to this which may come across as a bit too try hard. Personally I find their dark chocolate is their strength. The tasting notes and serving suggestions (which I have omitted but will add later if I find time) while interesting are not something which added much to the experience unless you enjoy bragging about where your food comes from and being more worldlier than others. Rather than enjoy the experience it feels like a task where you are now eligible to speak with authority about the taste of chocolate types. I like the chocolate itself but the pretension of the packaging and tasting notes make me less invested than they should in future purchases of this brand except for the Fairtrade aspect they heavily promote regarding the brand.


I wrote this a while ago but I probably have left a few aspects of the tasting collection out so it is better to see this post on the whole as a information dump of mini reviews about the brand.

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