Like any good day-in-the-life story, James Joyce’s Ulysses begins first thing in the morning, with breakfast. But while famously precocious student Stephen Dedalus is eating a wholesome farm fresh meal of milk and buttered bread, delivered straight to his door in some turn of the century version of FreshDirect, everyman Leopold Bloom wakes craving offal. His first morning mission is to head out to the store to procure a kidney which “oozed bloodgouts” in an appetizing prelude to his ideal meal:
June 16th is now upon us, marking the 112th anniversary of Poldy’s trip to the “ferreteyed porkbutcher.” This begs the question, how to best kick off your Bloomsday celebration this year? Most likely you do not live around the corner from a snout-to-tail style butcher as old Leo Bloom was lucky enough to, and even if you do (I’m looking at you, foodie Brooklyn), it seems likely that if your celebration has consequences, you might prefer them to be a whiskey hangover rather than the lingering aroma of kidney fried in butter.
That brings me to your best Bloomsday option. Whatever “Irish Breakfast” your local pub / theatre troupe / book club is serving, skip it and head for the nearest taco truck because today is the day to delve into the offal menu. Cabeza (a mixture of cheek, tongue, eyeballs, brain), lengua (just tongue), buche (stomach), and tripas (small intestines) are a few of the most common offerings, but the innards menu can vary from vendor to vendor, so take a leaf from Leopold’s book and “eat with relish” whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get lucky and run across some hígado (liver), riñón (kidney), or corazón (heart).
And don’t forget to keep walking! The thing to remember about Ulysses on this most campy of literary holidays is that it is a walking novel, its heroes circulating the city of Dublin, the city circulating their minds. Dramatic readings, Edwardian period dress, Chieftains tribute groups, and even bar hopping all miss most of the weirdness of this modernist masterpiece. And Joyce’s infamous potty humor? Try walking your city in a state of reflection and receptivity, carrying a brown bag of fresh grilled organ meat.