Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Inspector Montalbano Identifies Himself

Inspector Montalbano is a Sicilian detective in the series by Andrea Camilleri. Montalbano loves Sicilian food. He appreciates the culinary skills of his housekeeper Adelina and of the neighborhood restaurant owners. Dishes that he consumes in the course of the novel The Terra-Cotta Dog -- which I just read -- are named and lovingly described at every chance: "pasta with tomatoes, basil, and black passuluna olives that gave off an aroma to wake the dead"; pasta al forno; a snack of roasted chickpeas, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds; fresh anchovies baked in lemon juice, and on and on.

Montalbano definitely following the gourmet tradition of many other detectives, and he knows it. Near the beginning of The Terra-Cotta Dog this is indicated directly:
He [Montalbano] took his two courses, a bottle of wine, and some bread to the table, turned on the television, and sat down to dinner. He loved to eat alone, relishing every bite in silence. ... It occurred to him that in matters of taste he was closer to Maigret than to Pepe Carvalho, the protagonist of Montalban's novels, who stuffed himself with dishes that would have set a shark's belly on fire. (p. 42)
I've read many of Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret books, and know all about how the inspector loves to eat, especially the cooking of Madame Maigret. This is the first I've heard of Pepe Carvalho and his author Montalban, for whom I gather Camilleri named his character Montalbano. How interesting to find the fictional detective comparing himself to other fictional detectives! I must read a Pepe Carvalho mystery soon.

I wrote about another Inspector Montalbano book that I read here:
"The Snack Thief"

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