THE TABLE GROANED (Food in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe Books)

I love reading the Nero Wolfe books. I have a total reader-crush on Archie GooImagedwin and I’m sure I’d be happy to sit and listen to Nero Wolfe expound on just about any subject for hours. In fact I’d like to merely sit and watch him think, with his hands clasped over his big belly and his lips pushing in and out, in and out, as his great big brain puts together all the clues and solves the mystery at hand.

One of the many things that fascinates me about the Nero Wolfe mysteries is the food that Wolfe consumes. Rex Stout, the brilliant creator of the rotund detective, doesn’t just use food and dining as an illustration of how Wolfe got, and remains, so large. Nor are they for Stout merely means of transition or indications of the passage of time.

Stout uses food as a character in the books. It is every bit as alive, as filled with personality and appeal–visual and olfactory, color and taste as any witness, victim or villain. Because, I presume, of many requests, Rex Stout wrote The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, chock full of recipes from the books plus the scenario in which each dish was Imageconsumed.

After rereading some of the Nero Wolfe books recently, I bought the cookbook. I haven’t tried very many of the recipes. As I suspected, a lot of them are complicated. But I had to check out Wolfe’s perfect scrambled eggs, which he claims take twenty minutes to cook. I don’t take quite that long, but I have to admit, his method of scrambling eggs makes them extremely light and pleasant on the tongue.

Another recipe I’ve made is Anchovy Toast — for my husband. I cannot ABIDE anchovies. It looks delicious — but to me it smells horrendous. He loved it. I plan to try the recipe using shrimp one day soon.

There are about six different recipes for duckling, which is one of my favorite meats. I plan to try several of them in the next year.Most of them differ in the type of sauce served with the duckling. One is called Rouennaise. Doesn’t that sound divine?

I don’t have a profound conclusion for this post. Suffice it to say I love food, Nero Wolfe, Rex Stout, Archie Goodwin and perfect scrambled eggs.Image


7 thoughts on “THE TABLE GROANED (Food in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe Books)

  1. Hey, Rickey! I’m suddenly dying for scrambled eggs! Do you have a favorite among the Rex Stout books? Or is it best to read them in order? I’ve been reading Ellery Queen, and Erle Stanley Gardner, and I’d love to try a Nero Wolfe story!


  2. Hi Anna! I have never read them in order. I’ve always read them as I found them. I’m pretty sure I haven’t read all of them yet. Unfortunately the kindle books are pretty expensive, but I do buy one ever so often, just because I love reading and re-reading them so.

    Go crazy with it. If you love EQ and ESG (I do too!) I think you’ll adore NW… oh, and Archie! 🙂

    search Nero Wolfe Kindle and sort price-low to high. Watch out though. He wrote other books than Nero Wolfe books and I’m not as fond of them.

    Good to hear from you!

  3. I haven’t read any of the books, yet, but I totally had a crush on Archie in the television show (played by a very dapper Timothy Hutton.) Of course, I also had a crush on Jim Hutton when he played Ellery Queen. I’ll definitely have to check out the books.

    1. Hey Jessie. I adore Timothy Hutton. I’m looking for DVDs of the series. I’ll let you know if I find it.

  4. Thanks for the advice. I have love holiday books–especially in warmer weather–so I chose And Four to Go, and it’s on my Kindle, waiting as a reward for getting today’s page count! Hope there’s a holiday table groaning in the story! (I’ll let you know if there’s duck involved! 🙂 )

  5. Each NW is a stand alone mystery, but if you read them in order you get a glimpse of American society as it evolves from the 30s to the 70s. Stout wrote a contemporary mystery, and I enjoy the slice of daily life that peeks through now and then. To think of NYC in a time when Archie could drive downtown and park on the street is amazing. Attitudes towards women and minorities are horrible by today’s standards. But it shows the way it was, not cleaned up by revisionism. Give it a try. 🙂

  6. Lenore, I do love the sense of place and time Rex Stout could evoke with a few carefully chosen words. I agree with everything you’re saying. I’d love to have all of the books on my Kindle and just go through them from first to last. Maybe in a little house in France or Italy, sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine, for about a month. Ah…… 🙂

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