Man Ray

e were to meet a party of a dozen friends for lunch at the Hotel Sube on the quai. The table was set and there was great animation and laughter as Picabia recounted how he had rescued me from the sea. After some preliminary drinks - the native pastis, a milder sort of absinthe tolerated by the law - we sat down to the serious business of eating. Hors d'oeuvres were followed by the main dish of bouillabaisse, a huge fish stew served in large pieces of concave cork bark stripped directly from the tree. This was accompanied by separate platters of lobsters in a rich red sauce, "a l'Armoricaine", sometimes called "a l'Americaine", without reason. The aroma of spices and saffron filled the room. Picabia picked up a lobster claw and broke it, spattering the shirt of the guest opposite him. This one playfully picked up a fragment, swirled it around in the sauce and sprinkled Picabia with it, who retaliated with a similar gesture but projecting the red sauce on several other diners. These in turn followed suit until in a few moments everyone was decorated. Amid shouting and remonstrances we continued the meal. At the end the place looked like a battlefield, but all were in good humor, and those who were able to, retired to change their clothes. A few, who like myself were simply visiting, kept our stained shirts on.

Excerpted from "Self Portrait" by Man Ray | Little, Brown, and Company - Boston.