Wednesday Will – Sole Fish Saltinbocca (for BIG Ben Jonson)


The Ingredients of the Dish:
5 sole filets
2 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
5 ripe tomatoes
Chopped parsley or basil
White wine
Extra-Virgin olive oil
A pyramidical, hierarchical social order
Salt and pepper
Lemon Juice

The Chefs of the Recipe:
Will Shaksper – head chef of The Globe
Anne Hathaway – his 2nd best bed. It’s unclear whom or what was his 1st
Ben Jonson – one of both his greatest friends and fans

serves 5 people or 1 Ben

This appetizer I whipped up when that mountain-bellied, rock-faced sweetheart of a man, my friend Ben Jonson, came out to my country house in July a few years back. On the phone he told me he was getting ready to head to the sea for a few weeks, so he asked me not to make anything too heavy. Said he wanted to look as trim as a young fox once he got to Lamorna beach. I promised him that I wouldn’t try to outfox his dietary works but then added that I wasn’t an alchemist. “Tis not an easy dish to make a fox’s spritely gait from a whale’s lumbering paddle,” I said. “One trots lightly over land, and though seeming secure in his sleek summer coat, oft falls as hunted pray to an early unmasking blackness. You, my beloved Ben, are more like the latter – an imposing mass that knows no rival or threat but its own hunger for depth. You are like a well-tailored Savile Row suit to those flashy-holed Cavalli-jeaned, young beachcombing dudes who swim in the shallows. And as you are often like to say, every man in his humor, and he must fit within it as he fits within his own clothes. But don’t sweat it. Anne and I will to the fish market go and there catch a few days worth of fysshe beyond our beloved crown’s over angling fysshey days. You’ll leave here thinner than in our lordly seasons at Chamberlain. Man, those were good times.” I figured a diet of fish, not much oil or fat, lots of veggies and no sack for a week might actually trim Ben down a bit. He appreciated it. And if he hadn’t slipped out every night for a Pizza Hut extra-large double-stuffed, it probably would have. Anyway.

Though a simple enough dish to make, timing, as nearly always when preparing fish, is essential. The first thing is to take sole filets and lay them flat. On top of each filet place a thin slice of prosciutto. Role the layer whole into loose tubes, fish on the outside, and secure them using wooded skewers or toothpicks. Next, peel and seed the tomatoes and hand puree them into a lovely, fragrant pulp.

Place a pan on low heat and pour in some oil. Crush the garlic cloves and place them in the pan along with the bay leaf and flavor for two minutes. In the meantime go get a triangular shape into which you’ll spoon in the fresh tomato puree. I use the billiard rack from the old converted rec room, now my wine cellar. (Anne insisted. She told me, “Will, if you a different keep from my kitchen for all your Bacchian bottles do not find, this Anne will you find dutifully killing you with unkindness. Though you are the king of your London Globe’s oyster, in this Stratford nest Hathaway rules. So go get shakin’ if you don’t want me to turn you into a speared William. And don’t forget to pick up some skim milk and Venus razor blades at the drugstore when you’re through.”  I didn’t argue. Trust me, you don’t want to fool with Anne when she’s pissed. Hell hath no fury.) If you don’t have a shaped mold it’s not a tragedy. The idea is to make a triangular tomato bed onto which you’ll place the fish filets once they’ve been cooked.

Remove the garlic and bay leaf from the pan, raise the heat and cook the tubes for a few minutes on each side, adding a little dry white wine. Remove, and place the first fish tube near one point of the triangle, but outside the puree. Then place the rest of the rolls ever more into the triangle until the last one, which should be placed completely into the tomato puree form. Grate some lemon rind over the whole, or even a dash of hot pepper depending on your personal taste, a few drops of fresh extra-virgin olive oil and lemon. Decorate with fresh basil or parsley and serve lukewarm with a bottle of good white wine. Or a barrel, if Ben is dropping by.

The real recipe: 
5 Sole filets
5 Slices of Prosciutto di Parma*
Grated lemon rind
Basil leaves
5 Large, ripe tomatoes
E.V. Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Lemon juice
2 Cloves of garlic
1 Bay leaf
A half-cup of white wine
*ask the butcher or deli clerk for the ‘sweetest’ or tenderest they have

serves 5

Take the sole filets and lay them flat. On top of each filet place a slice of prosciutto. Next, role the filets and prosciutto into a loose tube, with the ham inside. Use long wooden toothpicks to hold each tube, poking them all the way through, side-to-side. Set aside. Next, peel and seed 5 large, ripe tomatoes. After doing so, with two good kitchen knifes hand-puree them into a lovely, fragrant pulp. It should be done by hand as most blenders will tend to over-puree the pulp. Salt just a little, and then leave it on an inclined plane to slowly allow the water to drain. You can make a comfit with the tomatoes if looking for a little more flavor (see Anthony and Cleopatra’s recipe.)

…for something that might have quelled the hunger of a real Big Ben, link to Stwed Beeff recipe:

…and Ben’s Eulogy for Will:
To the memory of my beloved, MR.   W I L L I A M   S H A K E S P E A R E:

what he hath left us.


{Ben Jonson’s Eulogy to Shakespeare}

To draw no envy (Shakespeare) on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy Booke, and Fame;
While I confesse thy writings to be such,
As neither Man, nor Muse, can praise too much.
‘Tis true, and all men’s suffrage. But these wayes
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise;
For seeliest Ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but eccho’s right;
Or blinde Affection, which doth ne’re advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;
Or crafty Malice, might pretend this praise,
And thine to ruine, where it seem’d to raise.
These are, as some infamous Baud, or Whore,
Should praise a Matron. What could hurt her more?
But thou art proofe against them, and indeed
Above th’ ill fortune of them, or the need.
I, therefore will begin. Soule of the Age !
The applause ! delight ! the wonder of our Stage !
My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lye
A little further, to make thee a roome :
Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe,
And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
That I not mixe thee so, my braine excuses ;
I meane with great, but disproportion’d Muses :
For, if I thought my judgement were of yeeres,
I should commit thee surely with thy peeres,
And tell, how farre thou dist our Lily out-shine,
Or sporting Kid or Marlowes mighty line.
And though thou hadst small Latine, and lesse Greeke,
From thence to honour thee, I would not seeke
For names; but call forth thund’ring schilus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to vs,
Paccuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
To life againe, to heare thy Buskin tread,
And shake a stage : Or, when thy sockes were on,
Leave thee alone, for the comparison
Of all, that insolent Greece, or haughtie Rome
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britaine, thou hast one to showe,
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time !
And all the Muses still were in their prime,
When like Apollo he came forth to warme
Our eares, or like a Mercury to charme !
Nature her selfe was proud of his designes,
And joy’d to weare the dressing of his lines !
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
As, since, she will vouchsafe no other Wit.
The merry Greeke, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not
please;But antiquated, and deserted lye
As they were not of Natures family.
Yet must I not give Nature all: Thy Art,
My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part;
For though the Poets matter, Nature be,
His Art doth give the fashion. And, that he,
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muses anvile : turne the same,
(And himselfe with it) that he thinkes to frame;
Or for the lawrell, he may gaine a scorne,
For a good Poet’s made, as well as borne.
And such wert thou. Looke how the fathers face
Lives in his issue, even so, the race
Of Shakespeares minde, and manners brightly shines
In his well toned, and true-filed lines :
In each of which, he seemes to shake a Lance,
As brandish’t at the eyes of Ignorance.
Sweet swan of Avon! what a fight it were
To see thee in our waters yet appeare,
And make those flights upon the bankes of Thames,
That so did take Eliza, and our James !
But stay, I see thee in the Hemisphere
Advanc’d, and made a Constellation there !
Shine forth, thou Starre of Poets, and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheere the drooping Stage;
Which, since thy flight fro’ hence, hath mourn’d like night,
And despaires day, but for thy Volumes light.

B E N : J O N S O N

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