Saturday, March 3, 2012

Episode 3 - The Green Mill Murder

I've lashed out and bought the novel this time, so with six days to research and plan the menu Friday's 1920s dinner should have a less tenuous connection to the action. There's a dancehall, and a death, so while it could be a late night supper it's really time Phryne had a proper meal. And in the novel, at least, she doesn't go hungry.

After an unpleasant encounter, Phryne treats herself to a
"large and indigestible" luncheon of lobster at the Ritz, a restaurant or cafe that fortunately does not seem to have existed. A few pages on her cook, Mrs Butler, produces vegetable soup and breaded veal cutlets for dinner, followed by apple pie and cream.

But the meal that appeals most of all is a clear soup followed by Mrs Butler's "masterpiece", a steak and kidney pudding, made especially for Phryne's sidekicks, Bert and Cec, returned soldiers and red-raggers. Much as she disapproves of their politics, Mrs Butler is impressed by their requests for more: "One [helping] is politeness, two is hunger, but three is a true and cherished compliment".

Mrs Butler makes her steak and kidney in a large, light-filled kitchen with every modern appliance, but other cooks would have made do in flats with a tiny kitchenette and a Primus stove. If they could turn out a velvety stew perfectly encased in suet in those conditions, it can't be that hard.


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