by Marvin Lachman

ROBERT J. COURTINE – Madame Maigret’s Recipes. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, hardcover, 1975; trade paperback, 1987.


   I cannot explain the long life of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Jules Maigret, who has been around for almost sixty years. He spends much of his time on “stake outs,” standing around in the cold. To warm up, he drinks more brandy than is good for him or his liver.

   And what happens when he comes home? Well, according to Madame Maigret’s Recipes, compiled by Robert J. Courtine, he is served all the wrong foods. Still, I once said the same about Nero Wolfe, and he survived many years even though he also had to contend with obesity and a sedentary life style.

   Seriously, Courtine’s book is a delight for all who love good food, presenting recipes which range from soups like vichyssoise to deserts, e.g., profiteroles, an obscenely delicious concoction of eggs, butter, cream, chocolate, and ice cream.


   In between are more than a hundred dishes of meat, seafood, and chicken. Vegetables and salads are few and tend to be prepared with such cholesterol no-nos as butter, cream, and eggs. Still, everything sounds mouth-watering, and the mystery fan will have the added pleasure of being reminded of the book and circumstances under which Maigret ate each dish.

   My favorite cook says most of these dishes are relatively difficult to prepare, despite the contention that Louise Maigret prepared only “good, honest” food, because sophisticated fare had no appeal for her husband.

   However, when the detective comes home to lunch (!) in Maigret and the Loner (1975) she prepares coq au vin and must have spent the entire morning at the stove.

   She proves she loves the detective as much as do his readers. Perhaps it is that the French have a different viewpoint regarding food and, as has been said in a different context, vive le difference.

Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 10, No. 4, Fall 1988.