Fr. Z’s Kitchen: fun new, old book and fun new, old post.

The other day a friend of mine was driving through town on his way to his ancestral place and he dropped by for some supper. Astute and considerate, he had spotted in a used bookstore a slim volume he thought I might enjoy, both for the fact of of the practical application of its contents but also for the sake of its ethos.

I present the Nero Wolfe Cookbook


Less expensive newer edition: HERE and HERE

There are some great breakfast ideas within along with great old photos of New York City.

I’m glad to have this.  On Amazon it seems to be pretty spendy, but it could be that you can find a used copy or even get it from a library, which often have lots of cookbooks.

It also spurred in my memory an old post about memorable meals in literature, which I repost hereunder.


A friend – quite the eclectic reader – sent an interesting piece from The Telegraph of a few years back.

10 Great Meals In Literature

Wow.  Great idea.   How did the selector do?    Let’s see.

1) Mad Hatters Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
2) The Episode of the Madeleine in In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust
3) Apple Pie and Ice Cream in On The Road by Jack Kerouac
4) Please, Sir, can I have some more from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
5) Gifts of Food in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6) Try Pots’ steaming chowder in Moby Dick by Herman Melville
7) Melting Raclette cheese on a fire in Heidi by Johanna Spyri
8) Sandwiches and coffee in Millennium by Stieg Larsson
9) Cheese Sandwich and Malted Milk in The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
10) Avocados in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

How did he do?

I can think of a few others.

    1. The Last Supper in The Gospels of the New Testament
    2. Lotuses in The Odyssey by Homer
    3. The Appearance of Banquo’s Ghost in Macbeth by Shakespeare
    4. Ugolino and His Children in The Inferno by Dante
    5. The Christmas Goose in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
    6. The Feast in Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen
    7. Liver, Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti in Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
    8. Toasted Cheese which its in the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian
    9. The Tears Cake in Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
    10. Meal on the Raft in Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    So, what did you and your friend have for supper?!

    [Roasted stuffed peppers, humus, toasted naan, cucumber wedges and carrot sticks, hot tea and spectacular conversation.]

  2. teomatteo says:

    Timpano in Stanley Tucci’s The Big Night.

  3. JPCahill says:

    Does the book include the wonderfully impractical 41 minute scrambled egg? Surely that was entirely Rex Stout’s imagination at work and not something anyone would actually do.

    Or was it? So far I have had neither the book nor the 41 minutes that I’m willing to spend to find out. Another couple of months of semi-lockdown, though, and who knows?

  4. GHP says:

    Bond, James Bond. Or was that …..
    Bullet, Tracer Bullet.

    Casino Royale:
    You must forgive me,” he said. “I take a ridiculous pleasure in what I eat and drink. It comes partly from being a bachelor, but mostly from a habit of taking a lot of trouble over details. It’s very pernickety and old-maidish really, but then when I’m working I generally have to eat my meals alone and it makes them more interesting when one takes trouble.” [As one does.]

    Bond liked to make a good breakfast. After a cold shower, he sat at the writing-table in front of the window. He looked out at the beautiful day and consumed half a pint of iced orange juice, three scrambled eggs and bacon and a double portion of coffee without sugar. He lit his first cigarette, a Balkan and Turkish mixture made for him by Morlands of Grosvenor Street, and watched the small waves lick the long seashore and the fishing-fleet from Dieppe string out towards the June heat-haze followed by a paper-chase of herring-gulls.

    Later, as Bond was finishing his first straight whiskey “on the rocks” and was contemplating the paté de foie gras and cold langouste which the waiter had laid out for him, the telephone rang. [Not the Château d’Yquem so early.]

    Bond shook himself, then he picked up his knife and selected the thickest of the pieces of hot toast.

    He dipped the knife into the glass of very hot water which stood beside the pot of Strasbourg porcelain and reminded himself to tip the waiter double for this particular meal.

    “A dry martini,” he said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”
    “Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. [Now extinct, but its nearest replacement is Cocchi Americano] Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold. Then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
    He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip.
    “Excellent,” he said to the barman, “but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it better.” [When in Russia I prefer Tsarskaya, but in most places one can depend on Absolute. Though I admit that from my … other days, I have nostalgic soft spot for Wyborowa.]

    “A small carafe of vodka, very cold,” ordered Bond.

    The trouble always is,” he explained to Vesper, “not how to get enough caviar, but how to get enough toast with it.” [Good help is hard to find.]

    “Now,” he turned back to the menu,” I myself will accompany Mademoiselle with the caviar, but then I would like a very small tournedos, underdone, with sauce Béarnaise and a couer d’artichaut. [Shameless flirt! What a double-entendre.]While Mademoiselle is enjoying the strawberries, I will have half an avocado pear with a little French dressing. Do you approve? [With the Edmond Fallot?]
    “If you agree,” said Bond, “I would prefer to drink champagne with you tonight. It is a cheerful wine and it suits the occasion—I hope,” he added.
    With his finger on the page, Bond turned to the sommelier: “The Taittinger 45?”
    “A fine wine, monsieur,” said the sommelier, “but if Monsieur will permit,” he pointed with his pencil, “the Blanc de Blanc Brut 1943 of the same marque is without equal.”

    She finished her story just as the waiters arrived with the caviar, a mound of hot toast, and small dishes containing finely chopped onion and grated hard-boiled egg, the white in one dish and the yolk in another. [Is there any other way?]

    Bond drank some champagne and continued.

    Bond sat back and lit a cigarette. On a small table beside him half a bottle of Clicquot and a glass had materialized. Without asking who the benefactor was, Bond filled the glass to the brim and drank it down in two long draughts. [Ah, yes, The Widow.]

    For a few minutes they discussed the game over a bottle of champagne.

    They were given a corner table near the door. Bond ordered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and scrambled eggs and bacon.

    With ceremony, a wide silver dish of crabs, big ones, their shells and claws broken, was placed in the middle of the table. A silver sauceboat brimming with melted butter and a long rack of toast was put beside each of their plates. The tankards of champagne frothed pink…The meat of the stone crabs was the tenderest, sweetest shellfish he had ever tasted. It was perfectly set off by the dry toast and slightly burned taste of the melted butter.” [Aren’t the soft-shelled coming into the markets now?]

    From Russia With Love:
    “Breakfast was Bond’s favorite meal of the day. When he was stationed in London it was always the same. It consisted of very strong coffee, from De Bry in New Oxford Street, brewed in an American Chemex, of which he drank two large cups, black and without sugar. [Who in the measured universe would put sugar in coffee made by Chemex?] The single egg, in the dark blue egg-cup with a gold ring around the top, was boiled for three and a third minutes. It was a very fresh, speckled brown egg from French Marans hens owned by some friend of May in the country. (Bond disliked white eggs and, faddish as he was in many small things, it amused him to maintain that there was such a thing as the perfect boiled egg.) [But… there is…. !] Then there were two thick slices of whole wheat toast, a large pat of deep yellow Jersey butter and three squat glass jars containing Tiptree ‘Little Scarlet’ strawberry jam; Cooper’s Vintage Oxford marmalade and Norwegian Heather Honey from Forthum’s.” [Perhaps he meant Fortnum’s? Two out out three. I just opened some Italian honey a corbezzolo.]

    Live and Let Die:
    “Paw-paw with a slice of green lime, a dish piled with red bananas, purple star-apples and tangerines, scrambled eggs and bacon, Blue Mountain coffee—the most delicious in the world—Jamaican marmalade, almost black, and guava jelly. As Bond, wearing shorts and sandals, had his breakfast on the veranda and gazed down on the sunlit panorama of Kingston and Port Royal, he thought how lucky he was and what wonderful moments of consolation there were for the darkness and danger of his profession.” [Ah yes. So many memories.]

    The Living Daylights:
    “Bond lit the gas cooker, burned the message with a sneer at his profession, [an expression I have lately worn more often when reading notes from the Holy See] and then brewed himself a vast dish of scrambled eggs and bacon which he heaped on buttered toast and washed down with black coffee into which he had poured a liberal tot of whiskey.” [Does one really…. brew all that?]

    [Hmmmm… In the final analysis, I must be more disciplined in checking on those hidden spy cams.]

  5. Glenmalure says:

    Charles Ryder’s dinner with Rex Mottram in Paris in Brideshead Revisited

    [Good one!]

  6. Vanna says:

    Sunday lunch at the Wilders in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy. Those pies! Also Ma’s clever thrifty food that she insisted had to be pretty too. But that – it occurs to me – is protestant food! So for a properly Catholic offering I suggest second breakfast at Bag End in front of the fire. With a good book and no unexpected visitors.

  7. ReadingLad says:

    Roast leg of lamb, served by Mary Maloney to her late husband’s colleagues investigating his brutal murder… ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ by Roald Dahl (1953). The devil gets all the best meals…

  8. sibnao says:

    The Mole’s and Rat’s picnic lunch by the river in Wind in the Willows!

    Also, which female reader can forget Tacy’s dinner with Betsy at the bench on the hill: just a big wedge of fresh, unfrosted cake?

    And finally, also from the world of classic chilrdren’s literature: Albert’s school lunch in Bread and Jam for Frances (it included a little cardboard shaker of salt for the hard boiled egg, utterly charming to the average five year old).

  9. JimmyD7 says:

    Nero Wolfe is a great read. One of the best. His meals are a center piece of the books. Good characters, good plots and good storytelling. I have often googled the recipes. I look forward to seeing your reports on the recipes! I would love to have the cook book

  10. WVC says:

    Ugolino and His Children!? – that’s so wrong!! [A meal great and terrible.]

    Another literary feast that I’m surprised hasn’t been mentioned yet is Bilbo Baggins and his introduction to the Dwarves. [Good one]

    Another is the great wedding feast in Don Quixote (one of my favorite parts is when Sancho finds a place near the cooking pot which had become a sacred space for him).

    There’s also Red Sammy Butts BBQ from Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

    Then there’s the very last meal in Waugh’s “Black Mischief” (speaking of Ugolino)

  11. Mariana2 says:

    Mole and Rat at Badger’s house.

    Frodo and friends at Crickhollow, eating the mushrooms Mrs. Maggot gave them.

    “Hobbits have a passion for mushrooms, surpassing even the greediest likings of Big People. A fact which partly explains young Frodo’s long expeditions to the renowned fields of the Marish, and the wrath of the injured Maggot. On this occasion there was plenty for all, even according to hobbit standards. There were also many other things to follow, and when they had finished even Fatty Bolger heaved a sigh of content. They pushed back the table, and drew chairs round the fire.”

  12. Titus says:

    Some not yet mentioned but worthy of it:

    Chapter 24 of David Copperfield: the dinner with the mock turtle soup and the too-many-but-two bottles of wine

    Any of Lavrans’ feasts in Kristen Lavransdatter

    Belloc, The Path to Rome:
    ‘If we must try this bookish plan of sleeping by day and walking by night,’ I thought, ‘at least one must arrange night meals to suit it.’

    I therefore, with my mind still full of the forest, sat down and lit a match and peered into my sack, taking out therefrom bread and ham and chocolate and Brûlé wine. For seat and table there was a heathery bank still full of the warmth and savour of the last daylight, for companions these great inimical influences of the night which I had met and dreaded, and for occasion or excuse there was hunger. Of the Many that debate what shall be done with travellers, it was the best and kindest Spirit that prompted me to this salutary act. For as I drank the wine and dealt with the ham and bread, I felt more and more that I had a right to the road; the stars became familiar and the woods a plaything. It is quite clear that the body must be recognized and the soul kept in its place, since a little refreshing food and drink can do so much to make a man.

    On this repast I jumped up merrily, lit a pipe, and began singing, and heard, to my inexpressible joy, some way down the road, the sound of other voices. They were singing that old song of the French infantry which dates from Louis XIV, and is called ‘Auprès de ma blonde’. I answered their chorus, so that, by the time we met under the wood, we were already acquainted.

    Villey the Dry is a fort, and there my four brothers were going. It was miles off, and they had to be in by sunrise, so I offered them a pull of my wine, which, to my great joy, they refused, and we parted courteously.

  13. hwriggles4 says:

    Here’s some good ones:

    1. Roy’s Beef Bourginone
    2. Stoker’s Spaghetti
    3. Chet’s Irish Stew
    4. Marco Lopez Chili
    5. Captain Stanley’s Clam Chowder
    6. Johnny’s seafood green stew made from Chef Michel’s book (it’s ok, Station 51 A shift loved it)

    Firefighters usually can cook. I made several meals from The Healthy Firehouse Cookbook by Joseph Bonano .

    10-4. KMG 365.

  14. Charivari Rob says:

    Many wonderful suggestions

    GHP, I loved the Bond passages. Reminds me of a half-formed idea I had to work my way through the food and drink of the Spenser books. Half of a good idea, anyway – but my doctor confiscated my library card for sake of my liver.

    Vanna, thank you for reminding me of Farmer Boy and the rest of the series. Much food – fasting, cultivation, feasting and family – in those books.

    hwriggles4, Emergency will always hold a place in my heart.

    I was thinking some of adventure books of my youth, where our heroes would set out on adventures but have domestic considerations taken into account – whether it was the Famous Five bringing along tinned food (and the all-important tin opener on the pocket knife) or Frank & Joe Hardy bringing Chet Morton to do the cooking.

    As I was thinking, there was one meal that I remembered only as a movie meal before realizing The Lilies Of The Field had been a book first:
    chapter three
    The morning was still, with no movement in the wide and lonely land. Homer Smith rose early. He dressed in a pair of Army slacks, a button-down gray shirt, a blue necktie, a gray jacket. A man had to look sharp on Sunday if no other time. He wandered about aimlessly, missing the sense of life, movement and activity that he associated with this strange place in which he found himself. As time passed, with no bell sounding, it became apparent that there would be no breakfast. He remembered vaguely from the Army that Catholics, or some Catholics, did not have breakfast before Mass. His own hunger was the captive of Catholic custom and he was uncomfortable. He removed his bed from the station wagon, providing space if not comfort for his passengers. At 8:30 they emerged.
    Mother Maria Marthe and her four nuns wore long black robes with white starched bibs and white bands across their foreheads under black hoods. They looked now like his idea of nuns but he was astonished at them.

    Piedras was a shabby little town and the church was a flat-roofed structure of adobe. Homer let his passengers out and stood beside the station wagon, ignoring the hard stare of Old Mother. This close was as close as he intended to go to a Catholic Mass. He waited until the nuns entered the church, then crossed the street. There were signs in Spanish all over the windows of a small café and he did not have to understand Spanish to recognize a place that sold beer and miscellaneous food. He wasn’t certain that it would be open, but it was. A thin man with sad brown eyes rose from a stool and moved behind the counter.
    “I want a man’s breakfast,” Homer said. “Ham and eggs, with lots of ham, and pancakes, and anything else you’ve got, and coffee. I want lots of coffee and I start with it.”
    “Si. I can do it. You are the man who does the work for those nuns?”
    “They do a lot of work themselves.”
    “Si. This I know. It is a great folly. They cannot make the living in this country. It is not possible.”
    A steaming cup of coffee appeared on the counter in front of Homer and he inhaled the fragrance of it. The sad man had a grill behind the counter and he broke eggs onto it. Ham sizzled and Homer’s nostrils twitched.

    Would the customer have some more of the eggs?
    The customer wasn’t interested in eggs but he would have more ham. Homer Smith was enjoying the this experience. He was catching up on his victuals after two lean days.

    “The Mass is finish,” the man said.
    There were a few people coming out of the church across the street. Homer rose and stretched. It had been a noble breakfast.

  15. Semper Gumby says:

    What a great post and comments. Books and chow.

    A classic feast, along with Bilbo’s introduction to the Dwarves is Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday to begin the Lord of the Rings and his after-dinner speech:

    “Indeed, for Three Purposes! First of all, to tell you that I am immensely fond of you all, and that eleventy-one years is too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits.” A tremendous outburst of approval.

    “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” There was some scattered clapping, but most of them were trying to work it out and see if it came to a compliment.

    GHP: Well done. Speaking of Tracer Bullet it’s been a while and some day I’ll have to see what he’s been up to.

    sibnao: The Wind in the Willows, ah yes, I remember that from when I was a lad.

    Mariana2: Good one.

    Titus: Good stuff with Belloc.

    Charivari Rob: Thanks, one day I’ll have to read Lilies of the Field.

    Fr. Z recently mentioned Michael D. O’Brien’s new novel The Lighthouse. He’s working on two more, h/t Catholic World Report:

    “I’ve recently completed a new novel titled The Sabbatical. The story is about an aging Oxford professor who would like nothing more than a quiet life; a man who feels he’s given what he can to the world. But, as you may have guessed, there’s more in store for him.”

    “Currently I’m writing a novel titled By the Rivers of Babylon, about the prophet Ezekiel, his childhood, youth and then his young manhood during the first Babylonian captivity.”

    Excellent, books and chow.

    Then there is dawn by the Sea of Galilee, a fire of burning coals and, curiously, 153 fish.

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