Jean-François Parot in his The Phantom of Rue Royale falls precisely into the cliché of the modern crime writer: the work has no atmosphere unless it segues into food, preferably with the entire recipe, accompanied often by pornographic descriptions of the ensuing meal. Here, he launches into an entirely unnecessary description of a calf's breast pie as prepared in a cheap restaurant in 18th century Paris. I go into the merits of the novel elsewhere, but here is the gastronomic excerpt:
'Only because it's you, Commissioner. Otherwise, I wouldn't say a word, even under torture. Here goes. You cut a decent piece of calf's breast - choose it well: it has to be plump and pearly. Then you cut it up into slices, which you lard with one or two pieces of fat. Make a crusty pastry out of lard and lower it into the pie dish. Put in the slices of veal, after seasoning them with bacon, salt, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, herbs, bay, mushrooms and artichoke ends, and cover the whole thing with pastry. Two good hours in the oven. You take it out, and just before serving, you cut a little hole in the top and carefully pour in a white sauce made with lemon juice and egg yolks.'
'That seems to me perfectly adapted to the emptiness of our bellies,' said Bourdeau with a gleam in his eye and his lips all aquiver with anticipation.
'And to whet your appetites, I'll serve cherries, the first of the year, cooked in cinnamon wine.'
'Ideal for a little eleven o'clock meal,' said Nicolas ingratiatingly.