|Agatha Christie in her kitchen -- from Crèmes & châtiments|
Amazingly, Christie's prose seems absolutely modern. Styles is a totally readable book about a grand household that reminds me of Downton Abbey (probably not a coincidence, since Christie invented a lot of the conventions for depicting this social class in popular literature). I'll be following up my Christie reading when I've read a few more.
What I want to concentrate on today is an Agatha Christie cookbook titled Crèmes & châtiments: Recettes délicieuses et criminelles d'Agatha Christie. The meaning of the title, which is a better pun in French than in English: Creams and Punishments: Recipes both delicious and Criminal from Agatha Christie by Anne Martinetti and François Rivière, first published in France in 2005. Though this book is entirely in French, every page quotes one of Christie's books. Needless to say, she's highly popular there, and all her books have long ago been translated.
|My copy of the book -- the 2010 edition.|
This situation is totally surprising as Christie describes food at appropriate intervals throughout her vast collection of detective fiction, and food also appears in most of the film and TV treatments of her stories. The French identity of this book makes some sense, as Hercule Poirot is a partisan of French cooking. Here's an amusing example from The Blue Train: Hercule Poirot's valet suggested that he wear a particular "brown lounge suit." Poirot replied, "There is a grease spot on the waistcoat... a morceau of filet de sole à la Jeannette alighted there when I was lunching at the Ritz last Tuesday." If you have read the books or seen the films you know that Poirot was fussy about both his food and his clothing. Crèmes & châtiments doesn't have this particular dish, but does offer a few elegant-sounding fish recipes and several desserts and pastries that the detective would have enjoyed. And by the way, Poirot's excellent valet had removed the spot, enabling him to wear the suit.