Ernest Hemingway’s Connection to Greek Food in Chicago

FILE - In this Nov. 1960 file photo, U.S. author Ernest Hemingway attends a bullfight in Madrid, Spain. Photo: (AP Photo/File)

CHICAGO – American author Ernest Hemingway is connected with a variety of international locales, including Paris, France, Madrid, Spain, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, but his Greek connection is perhaps not as well known since it happens to be via a Greek restaurant in Chicago. The Princeton Alumni Weekly magazine article, entitled Friends for Life: An Alum’s Recollections of Hemingway, features part of Bill Horne’s memoirs, a former student at Princeton and a close friend of the author.

Horne wrote in his memoirs, “He wired that he was coming, and a week later we had a happy reunion. We rented a fourth-floor room in a house at 1230 N. State Street. It was the kind with a washstand in the corner and a bath down the hall. Meals weren’t included, so we usually ate at Kitso’s, a Greek restaurant on Division Street.

It was a quick lunch place with tables, a counter, and a hole in the wall for shouting orders into the kitchen. They served pretty good dinners for 65 or 70 cents, and I think Kitso’s was the scene of Ernie’s story, ‘The Killers.’”

The story described by Horne took place in the early 1930s and it is logical that the particular Greek restaurant no longer exists.

Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis by Liesl Olson also refers once again to the restaurant, and again based on the same source.

Olson notes that Hemingway and Horne were roommates and often ate in a neighborhood restaurant called Kitso’s, which was owned by a family of Greek immigrants of the same name. Dinner and coffee would not cost no more than 65 cents and the two friends ate there almost every night.

Olson confirms in turn that Kitso’s was a source of inspiration for the Hemingway short story.

The Killers is about two professional killers going to a small town to kill a famous former boxer. It was first published in March 1927 in Scribner’s Magazine. Hemingway was paid $200 for this short story, his first mature project published in an American magazine.

The author himself had stated that he wrote the short story in a burst of creativity on May 16, 1926, before lunch at a neighborhood restaurant…