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Blue Heron in flight

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Cooking with Nero

Sydney Greenstreet , radio voice of Nero, 1950
As I have mentioned repeatedly, my late mother was a writer, reader, editor, agent and a french gourmand. 

My father was also a gourmet but had a slightly more conventional palette, favoring the cuisine of places like Trieste.

To my horror, as I get older I am starting to take up more of my mother's habits and affectations, one being cooking.

Way back in 1972 I remember when we got a call on the phone from a man in Indiana named Rex Stout. We were living in Gramercy Park, my mother was the editor at Pinnacle.

Our mutual favorite fictional detective was the incredible mountain of a man from Montenegro, Nero Wolfe. Rex, the man on the phone, wrote the iconic novels. 

Nero was a renaissance man, the rare bird who knew a Dendrobium from a Phalaeonopsis flower, could solve an unsolvable crime and also appreciated a fine meal.

My mother was trying to cook all the recipes that Nero had his cook, Fritz Brenner prepare for him in the books. She had written Stout a letter and he had graciously responded. I remember that they had a wonderful chat.

My mother never got around to writing the Nero recipe book but somebody did back in 1987. It is now in its third printing.

I went looking for it this morning at the Bottom Shelf at the library but will order it online if I have to.

I have decided to follow my late mom's footsteps in the kitchen and whip out a few of the recipes that would make Archie Goodwin and Saul Panzer gleam with gustatory glee.

Of course, Nero was not so health conscious so there will be a lot of butter and cream used but hey, we all have to go sometimes, might as well be with a smile on our faces.

I actually did an appraisal for Stout's daughter once, a remarkable woman in her own right, also related to Josef Hoffman.

In any case, here is a Nero recipe, from the book Death of a doxy, Breakfast at the Brownstone, for Au beurre noir.

shirred egg?
Nero of course lived on west 35th, at a fictional address,  not far from my ancestral home.
Stan Hunt - The American Magazine - June, 1949

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