I’ve just finished The Gourmet Detective by Peter King, Cordon Bleu chef-turned-mystery writer. I saw it at the library and thought I might as well check it out. As far as mysteries go I’ve never found another author to touch Agatha Christie; I think her style just appeals to me best. At any rate, The Gourmet Detective isn’t even a contender in the mystery department, but I read the whole thing anyway. The book is complete and total food porn! Lengthy descriptions of meals on practically every page; teasing mentions of rare and expensive ingredients I will never even see, much less taste; discourses into food history and trivia. Reading this for the mystery would be like reading Playboy for the articles. I’d say this is playing too much into the foodie trend, but this book came out in 1994. There’s so much gastroporn in it you don’t even need real porn. There’s no sex at all. Witness what happens the first night the sexy blonde object of the hero’s affections comes to his apartment:

I had bought boned squabs from the butcher and had him halve them. I had cooked some bacon in butter and then put in the squabs, browned and removed them. I cooked onions, shallots and carrots and removed them too. I sprinkled in some flour, added white wine and boiled till thick. Then I added chicken stock, Madeira, fennel, thyme, basil, oregano and marjoram. I simmered this, added the squabs and the vegetables and cooked till it thickened…

Tonight, all I had to do was heat the sauce, add the squabs, the bacon, the olives and the mushroom liquid. It was slightly thick so I added some more Madeira. I served it with lemon slices and couple of tiny potato pancakes.

It was a huge success. With it, we had a bottle of Pomerol.

“Not a very common wine,” commented Winnie.

This kind of thing constitutes the bulk of the description of that night. Finally, we get:

I sat beside Winnie on the couch as we drank coffee. The food and wine had brought the faintest of flushes to her cheeks and her eyes were merry. I put down my coffee cup. Our hands touched.

And that’s it! They never get beyond touching hands. At that moment the phone rings with the news of a sudden death, and off they go to investigate.

Fortunately, the book didn’t fulfill its pornographic purpose–I’m not hungry at all. I am thinking, though, that I write these kinds of long descriptions of food… I hope I’m not as pompously gourmet about it. I’ll have to watch it in future.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]