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The Nero Wolfe Cookbook

por Rex Stout

Outros autores: Editors of the Viking Press (Contribuidor)

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Shotter presents an introductory account of the achievements and reputation of one of the most infamous figures in Roman history. Maps, a time-chart, appendices and a glossary are included to aid further study.
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3/26/22
  laplantelibrary | Mar 26, 2022 |
Like all cookbooks in my house, this one is taking a turn by the bedside before it makes its way to the shelves by the kitchen. But I didn't know about this book until a couple weeks ago, when a friend mentioned it in passing. Obviously, that evening I went on Amazon marketplace and bought a copy. It arrived just the other day, and thus far it seems quite wonderful.

The book is peppered with dining-related quotes from the Nero Wolfe novels and stories. There's a little bit of original text, in the way of a delightful introduction by Fritz Brenner, Wolfe's cook (!) - I'm not certain it was written by Stout, but it's fun. Fritz says he doubts the book will make you a better cook, since great cooking is a matter of soul, not knowledge. He doubts it will make you a worse one, however.

The recipes are organized by meal time and location, so you don't get a chapter on appetizers, one on meat, one on salads, and so on. Instead the chapters include breakfast, luncheon, cold- and warm-weather dinners, Rustermann's restaurant, and dishes cooked by Wolfe himself. The recipes themselves range from the simple, with basic ingredients (e.g., blueberry muffins), to things with truffles and caviar, of which Wolfe was of course quite fond. Although I haven't tried any of them yet, they seem clear and well-written, with no obvious mistakes. Regardless, one thing I particularly enjoy is the window it opens onto a number of dishes that seem to have largely disappeared from the present; I mean, who makes an omelet with bacon and apricot preserves anymore?

At any rate, I'd say any Nero Wolfe fan *needs* to have this. It may also be of interest to cooks who aren't fans, but who are interested in American cookery from the 1930s through the 1960s.

Update:
I finished reading through this last night, and although I haven't tried cooking from it yet, I can say a bit more. First, I can confirm that this is a fantastic item for any fan of the great detective. It's full of reminders of great scenes in the stories, by way of excerpts and recipes I'd forgotten about until coming on them here again; for example, this has the trout deal Lily Rowan cooks for Wolfe, and the deal he makes her in return). There's a great section based on the rant Wolfe goes on during a train journey (in "Too Many Cooks"), in which he lists off great American dishes to a European who'd claimed there was no such thing. Wolfe's monologue is punctuated by the recipe for each dish after it's named. Great fun.

But as a cookbook for actual use in the kitchen....well, let's say I wouldn't try making any of things things for guests if I hadn't tested them out first. The main problems are that the recipes are really variable in detail, and written in an older style that makes a lot of assumptions.
The detail variability often eliminates quantities for seasonings and spices, but sometimes goes further and is vague about main ingredients ("Make a strong lemonade from the oranges, lemons, sugar, and water" isn't necessarily enough info when the ingredients list just said "Oranges; lemons; sugar; water").

The assumptions are things like expecting certain techniques to be known ("Make a cream sauce from the flour, milk..." - ok, pretty easy, but there were other things I don't recall, because I don't know how to do them), to what I assume were standard sizes for equipment that now varies ("In a casserole, alternate two layers each of the slices of X and Y" - without knowing how large the casserole should be, you can't know how close to space the slices). Plus there are some things you're just not going to do, such with unusual animals such as turtle, or terrapin, or starlings, or with ingredients such as truffles and caviar. Finally, there are a some equipment requirements that I'd guess the average kitchen won't satisfy, such as a meat grinder, or a chinois strainer. Weirdly, these problems, and the ingredient vagaries, seem to get worse as the book progresses, making me wonder if the editors lost interest before the book was finished.

Nevertheless, it was a fun read, and there are some things I do want to try, so I will happily place it in the case with the cookbooks, not with the mysteries. ( )
  JohnNienart | Jul 11, 2021 |
This is one of those cookbooks I would call "unique" just because it isn't just a bunch of recipes with a common theme. This cookbook is for the diehard Nero Wolfe fans who really want to submerge themselves in his world. It's a great concept. I don't know how many readers actually tried to cook these meals, but they are real, honest-to-goodness recipes, albeit with weird ingredients like kummel, kirschwasser, sauterne, and pig livers. There is a whole chapter on just corn (note to self: try the roasting of corn in their husks instead of the traditional steaming). Throughout the recipes are little snippets of Wolfe's unique relationship with food. I found it interesting that he can't stand to have hungry visitors, even if those same visitors are thought to be suspects. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Dec 23, 2014 |
One of the amazing things about this particular cookbook is, that you don't really have to like mystery stories to enjoy it. It is so well put together with excerpts, commentary, recipes, instructions, that it is eminently readable by any one.

As an historical note, it is an encapsulation of American eating habits of the time period--whether or not it was "good" for you.

And, as a bonus, it introduces the unaware to one of the truly great fictional creations in all time--the great (in so many ways) Nero Wolf.

May it never go out of print! ( )
  Cacuzza | Nov 19, 2013 |
This is a great addition to the library of any serious Nero Wolfe fan. You can truly get the feel of what a good cook (Fritz) went through on a daily basis to prepare meals for the great man. In addition, it's a great look into how people used to eat (and wish they still did) in the days before we were all concerned with trans fats, calories, cholesterol, fiber in the diet, the hazards of red meat, and so forth.

I have tried a couple of the simpler recipes, and they are very good, so it is also possible to actually use this book as a true cookbook.

Really, though, it's just a great side light to the Nero Wolfe series and I heartily recommend it.
  MissJessie | Oct 16, 2013 |
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Shotter presents an introductory account of the achievements and reputation of one of the most infamous figures in Roman history. Maps, a time-chart, appendices and a glossary are included to aid further study.

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