George Orwell, known for 1984 (classic) and Animal Farm (overrated), is a fantastic author whose life and work has been thoroughly dwarfed by the titanic nature of his own, most seminal creations. As far as fates go, that’s not a bad one. But it does cause a situation wherein some of the writer’s less-acclaimed works fall by the wayside, my favorite of which I’ll tell you about right now.
Down and Out in Paris and London is the author’s first full-length work, published in 1933 after years of hard toil and work. And I do mean toil and work separately. In his days, he scraped for money, working as a scullion and other low positions in hotels and restaurants in Paris, toiling away for a bit of coin, a spot of bread, and a bug-free place to lay his head. Rarely did he get everything he needed. At the same time, he was working on his writing, chronicling his days, presciently believing that all of the bullshit would be worth it if he only wrote it down. He tried to publish it many times in many versions, unsuccessfully. Orwell was only a man, one man, but imagine how lesser our world would be if he’d ever given up.
Beyond the story of its creation, Down and Out is a delightful read, thoroughly different from the stark prose of Orwell’s more well-known works. He’s like, a funny guy, and you like this guy, this kid, this self-aware bum. And that charm is probably what got the thing published. Over the next seven years, Orwell would produce six books, some fiction, some memoir. And then the war came to Britain.
Orwell and his wife were patriots, and wanted to join the war effort in any way they could. Surprisingly, Orwell had to scrap and claw his way into the action just as hard as he’d had to scrap and claw his way into the writing world, declared by the medical board in June 1940 to be “unfit for any kind of military service” at the age of thirty-seven. So the man wrote, and dug for victory, planting potatoes. And this aspect of his nature has always made me wonder about that title, Down and Out. Because it seems to me that George was never out. Always doing something, never giving up.
Anyway, all this horseshit obviously reminds me of a sandwich, so let’s get on with it. We’re here to discuss the broodje kroket, a croquette* filled with stew meat wrapped in bread that originated in the Netherlands. It’s a sandwich that grew to popularity in that country at the conclusion of the war. Now, these were hectic and disordered times, the likes of which those of us who are young and alive in the West in the 21st century cannot truly understand.
So, following the war, Orwell went back to his writing, and the sandwich makers went back to work. In the chaos of the postwar years, supplies were limited—they made sandwiches out of anything! According to one of the world’s premier texts on croquettes, Het Volkomen Krokettenboek , which I haven’t read, because I can’t, the legend was they used to put any old shit inside these things. It was postwar Europe! They probably were putting any old shit inside these things! Unexploded ordinance! Fucking rat feet!
And that, my friends, is part of the charm. The enigma of a good lunch! There could be rat feet in it! And I, Sarah, would enjoy eating it. For the novelty, yes—but to experience the rare taste as well.
Anyway, like I mentioned earlier, the broodje kroket is a croquette filled with stew beef inside a roll of white bread. It’s served hot, with mustard. McDonald’s Netherlands literally sells a McKroket. I just came in my goddamn pants.
*a croquette… is like a mozzarella stick. A croquette is ______, covered in bread crumbs, and then fried. You fill in the blank. Lots of things are croquettes when you think about it. It’s a very nice word for a very nasty snack—nasty for your health, anyway. The term comes from the French language word “croquer”, which I am told by my French emissaries means “to crunch.”
Photo Credit: Smul Wereld
Translation du Sarah: “Small World Crunchy Bread”
What are you doing right now, anyway? I’m watching Furious 7 and drinking Mickey’s at 7:40 in the morning. And I would prefer it if you continued to not ask questions about my incredibly mysterious personal life.