Dining and Carolus Deene, Excerpts

In Chapter Fifteen of Dead for a Ducat (1956), Carolus Deene forgoes a pleasant meal in his own home for a poor one at the vicarage in Mincott:
When Carolus told Mrs. Stick he would not be in for his usual cold Sunday evening supper, she seemed rather put out. 
“There, and I’ve made a nice game-pie for you.  I suppose it will keep, but still . . .”
“I assure you I shall miss it,” said Carolus.  “I’m taking what he calls pot luck with the Vicar of Mincott.”  [p. 152]
Carolus could not help wondering what had taken so long to prepare.  Those large, nude, greyish boiled potatoes, perhaps.  Not surely the beetroot, which was plainly soaked in reddened vinegar, or the round slices of a substance described as luncheon meat, or the cold rice pudding which completed the meal.
Mrs. Fleece called her husband’s attention.
“Selwyn.  The cider,” she said in a hushed voice, and the Vicar left the room to return with a china jug from which he half filled their glasses with a cloudy liquid.
“Fall to, my dear fellow,” he shouted to Carolus.  “You must be hungry, after all that detection.  Let me see you demolish some of this.”
Carolus tried to obey.  [p. 157]
In Chapter Sixteen, Carolus asks Mrs. Stick for details of the planned dinner-party for Lady Pipford at Mincott House:
“Have you seen Lady Pipford about the menu?” he asked.
“Yes.  It’s all arranged, Sir.  I’m going to do a nice cream-of-celery soup to start with cruttons . . .”
“Cruttons, Mrs. Stick?” asked Carolus, honestly puzzled.
“Squares of fried bread,” said Mrs. Stick, a little surprised by such ignorance.  “Then fillets of sole Colbert.  That’s with a pat of parsley butter on each.  Tournedos.  Then roast partridge with game potatoes and salad.  A nice chocolate soufflé to finish.  It isn’t what I call a very satisfying dinner, but there’ll be plenty of everything.  I’ll see to that.”
“It sounds excellent.  Simple and seasonable.”  [p. 171]

In Chapter Fifteen of Jack on the Gallows Tree (1960), Colonel Baxeter encounters Mr. Gorringer and Carolus:
“My wife has instructed me to invite you to share our lunch today and perhaps Mr. Gorringer will join you?”
Carolus, who had dreaded a meal at Dehra Dun, now saw possibilities in the situation and Mr. Gorringer, who knew nothing of the Colonel’s rules of health, beamingly accepted.
The lunch was not a success.  The headmaster, whose appetite was a healthy not to say voracious one, looked unhappily at the dish of various so-called ‘edible seaweeds’ which had been skilfully prepared.
“Slouk,” said the Colonel, “excellent when dressed as this is with pepper and olive oil.  Redware, you should squeeze a little lemon over that.  Badderlocks which have also the pleasant name of Honeyware.  They do not belie that name.  Dulse you will find tastes like roasted oysters.”
“Interesting”, said Mr. Gorringer without conviction.  “And you feel no hardship in subsisting on these foods?”
“Hardship?  You will find them delicious.  We have a nut roast to follow with salsify and alecost.”
Carolus turned the talk to murder, as a relief.  [p. 134]
“A little more sea-girdle, Mr. Gorringer?” said Mrs. Baxeter, to deflect attention from her accomplishments.
“No, thank you!” said the headmaster with lively emphasis.  “Health-giving, I make no doubt, but I have had sufficient.”  [p. 135]
In the car afterwards the headmaster looked pained.
“Salubrity, yes,” he said.  “Hygiene, dietetics, therapy, hydropathy within reason, all may have their place in our modern world.  But seaweed, my dear Deene, surely that is carrying vegetarianism to excess?”  [p. 136]
Mr. Gorringer, mellowed by a whiskey-and-soda, became very courteous.
“I’m glad to have the opportunity,” he said, “of thanking you again for that delic . . . er excel . . . that most interesting lunch.”
“You like our simple fare?  You should try my wife’s mock pigeon pie.  Made from aubergines and coco-butter,” said the Colonel.
“And prunes,” put in his wife.  [p. 146]
Soon afterwards the Baxeters prepared to leave.  Mr. Gorringer bowed gravely.
“Most enlightening,” he said insincerely to Mrs Baxeter who had been talking about vegetarian cookery […].  I must suggest that my wife experiments with some of these salubrious dainties.”
“Tell her to try nut fish,” advised the Colonel.  “Chopped pecan nuts and hominy, with breadcrumbs, walnuts, grated onion, hard-boiled eggs, all moulded to the shape of whatever fish you prefer.”
“And chopped parsley,” his wife reminded him.
“Sounds delec . . . appetiz . . . very nutritious,” smiled Mr. Gorringer.  [p. 149]

In Chapter Five of A Bone and a Hank of Hair (1961), Carolus would rather enjoy roast boar’s head—or tête de sanglier rôti—for Christmas than than have dinde farcie aux marrons :
Mrs. Stick had been relieved to see Carolus return on the previous evening.  “For all we was to know any different,” she observed, you might have forgotten Christmas and everything and gone off somehow after asking Dr. and Mrs. Thomas for lunch tomorrow.  I’ve got everything just as it should be.  Turkey.  Pudding.  Old English style.”
“Not so very old, said Carolus, “nor so very English for that matter.  Before that sentimental Prince Albert started all this turkey-and-Christmas-tree nonsense, it was an English feast.  Boar’s head, Mrs. Stick . . .”
“Was it really?  Well I could have done that.  Tate de sang liar row T.  Anyway, tomorrow it’s dindy far see owe marrons, and I think you’ll like it.”
Carolus dutifully ate some of that uninteresting and coarse-grained bird with his friends Lance and Phoebe Thomas but, like other people without children, found it impossible to make of the meal an ‘occasion’.  [pp. 42-43]

In Chapter One of Nothing Like Blood (1962), Carolus is chatting with an old family friend:
They were interrupted by the entrance of Mrs. Stick, Carolus’s small hearted and severe housekeeper, who cooked superbly but was apt to extend her sharp authority over his life.  [. . .]  “I’ll see about the dinner.”
“What have we?” asked Carolus[.]
“There’s a soof-lay,” admitted Mrs. Stick.  Then some treat oh blue.  Capon oh grow sell.”
“You’ve certainly done us proud, Mrs. Stick.  Soufflé, Truites au bleu and capon au gros sel,” he interpreted.  [p. 8; in Chapter Seven of Death by the Lake, Carolus also enjoys “what his housekeeper called ‘treat oh blue’ ”.]

In Chapter Four of Death at Hallows End (1965), Carolus drives towards the village of Hallows End after attending a cremation:
While still some four miles from the village, he had to follow a main road for a few hundred yards, and on it saw a bright new pub called the Falstaff Hotel.  Its neo-Elizabethan architecture and expense of diamond-paned windows did not attract him, but since it was likely to be the only place for lunch in the vicinity, he decided to follow the instructions on a large board:  “Drive In”.  Another board proclaimed:  “Lunch now Being Served in the Tudor Dining Hall,” and yet another:  “Accommodation for Motorists.”  When, however, he reached the Sir Walter Raleigh Bar, he found that these inviting inscriptions, at least for today, has been unproductive for he was alone with the landlord, a youngish man with a large and turbulent growth of hair on his upper lip.  [p. 42]

“What can you do about some lunch?”
“We’re pretty slack at this time of year.  I’m afraid there’s not a fire in the Tudor Dining Hall, but food-wise we’re all right if you like to have it here by the fire.  Fact the wife said she had something pretty delish for today.”
“That’s fine.  As soon as it can be managed then.”
The landlord disappeared and presently his wife, a rather sullen young woman, appeared, to lay a cloth on one of the glass-topped tables.  She did not seem to enjoy work.
“There’s only sheep’s hearts,” she said.
“Thank you,” Carolus smiled.  “I like them very much.”
“It’s a good thing you do because that’s all we’ve got.  It’s no good laying a lot in at this time of year.
“Of course not.  Very kind of you.”
“You can have some soup first if you want it,” she melted sufficiently to say.
“And there’s a treacle-roll for afterwards.”  She was brightening rapidly.  “But I don’t expect you care for that.”
“I love it,” said Carolus truthfully and wondered what Mrs. Stick would say.
“Like some sprouts with your heart?”
“Thank you.”
“There’s a nice Stilton, too.”
“It’s a banquet,” Carolus told her.
“I knew there’d be suffish,” put in the landlord.  “Catering-wise the wife’s terrif, really.  Only she doesn’t shout about it.”
“No, and I don’t call a twelve-by-twelve little dining-room the Tudor Hall and then have to ask people to eat in the Saloon.  And I don’t put up a notice saying lunch being served now, when there’s not a soul in the house,” she retorted, her irritation returning with a rush.  [pp. 45-46]
In Chapter Eighteen, Carolus plans a dinner (which Mr. Gorringer will pronounce “positively Lucullan”) at his home:
“What will you give us, Mrs. Stick?
“I thought you might start with a nice game soup, soup der chess as they say.”
Soupe de Chasse, translated Carolus. Yes?”
“Then a nomlet nice was . . .”
Omelette Nicoise. Certainly.”
“Then how about a blanket der vow?”
Blanquette de Veau. Excellent.”
“With creeps to finish up with.”
Crêpes, yes. Only not that overrated Suzette business.”
“Certainly not, sir. I wasn’t thinking of it. Creeps hoax noicks was what I had in mind.”
Aux noix”, said Carolus who was proficient in Mrs. Stick’s terminology.  “Yes, that will be better.”
“You pound walnuts with pistachios and warm cream,” explained Mrs. Stick.
“Eight o’clock then,” said Carolus.  [p. 207-08]

In Chapter Two of Death on the Black Sands (1966), Carolus and Mrs. Stick, his “superb cook and housekeeper” (p. 20), discuss his proposed trip to Spain:
“Your dinner will be ready in half an hour, sir.  Ober gins far see, pull it on jelly, and a chocolate mouse.”
“Yes, I see,” said Carolus who was a growing accustomed to Mrs. Stick’s insistence on the mot juste pronounced as read.  “Aubergines farcies, poulet en gêlée and chocolate mousse.  Excellent.  What a time you’d have in Spain learning to make gazpacho.”
“I thought they cooked over charcoal there,” said Mrs. Stick enigmatically as she left the room.  [pp. 22-23]

In Chapter One of Death with Blue Ribbon (1969), Yves Rolland, formerly, Ivor Rowlands, seeks the aid of Carolus to stop a blackmailer:
Rolland, famous for his dictatorial behaviour with customers, the restaurateur who had earned headlines by telling a party to leave because one of them had asked for tomato ketchup with his canard pressé, a martinet with his highly paid staff, now sat pale and sweating in his expensive desk.  When he thought of the long climb into this position of wealth and authority it seemed even more fantastic that it should be threatened now by this confident and amused rogue and his sinister friend.  Fantastic, yes, but it was not fantasy.  All he had learned in his unscrupulous and utterly selfish career told him that he faced reality.
He looked back to his home at Woolwich and to his father, a professional waiter all his long working life, and to his own school days.  He had not been a popular boy, having nothing, in schoolboy eyes, to justify his air of superiority.  So far from feeling any indignation on his father’s behalf for those years of meanly rewarded servitude, he had borrowed his life savings to start his first café and when this failed had made no attempt to repay the loan and watched his father spend the rest of his life keeping up a miserable show of respectability in conditions of semi-starvation.  A series of dubious enterprises on borrowed money, tawdry little clubs of décor and decadence, had brought him at last to acquaintance with Tony Brown in whom he recognised ability, for Tony was a born cook with a flair for artful catering.  The two had decided on partnership on a fifty-fifty basis, Tony to run the kitchen of a restaurant they were to start and Rolland the business as a whole.  They had planned to start in a small way and go forward cautiously.
They had actually found premises and paid a couple of thousand, supplied by Tony, for the lease when Rolland announced that he was about to marry a woman twenty years older than himself with a very large and unprotected fortune.  He had bought the Fleur-de-Lys, an obscure pub thirty miles from London in a rift of unspoiled country and built onto it the splendid restaurant he called the Haute Cuisine so that Tony, now known as Antoine, had no remedy but to become his chef at a high salary with a minute percentage of profits and no say in the business of which he was to have been part proprietor.
It was a squalid life-story but Roland saw in it only his heroic career from modest beginnings to immense success.  It was his shrewdness, his determination, his enterprise which had made him at less than forty years of age a famous restaurateur whose photograph and idealised biography had appeared in the illustrated supplement of a Sunday newspaper.
Though he had some knowledge of catering and menu language he would have puzzled a Frenchman, brought up in the tradition of real, cooking, by his basic ignorance of the kitchen.  But he made up for this in gastronomic arrogance and lectured his customers on wines and food, on what to drink with what, and on why his food was so much better than his rivals’.  He had realised the value of a few specialities and had cashed in on one of those anomalies of taste and fashion by which scampi on a menu had become a status symbol in the English catering trade.  He had been one of the first to import these mediocre shellfish frozen and had persuaded Antoine to produce a dish of them, deadened under a curried sauce with an admixture of coconut, flambé at the customer’s table and called Scampi à la Rolland.  It had helped to make his restaurant thrive.  [pp. 11-13]
In Chapter Two, Carolus questions Rolland:
“I should be bloody angry if I was given something poisonous when I was paying your prices.  How much do you charge for Dublin Bay prawns, or scampi as you call them?
“Twenty-five bob.  Stephane serves them from a chafing dish.”
“Where did they come from?”
“Dublin Bay,” said Rolland.
“Then why call them scampi?  They’re frozen, of course?”
“Kept in the deep freeze.”
“I see.  [. . .]  Look here, Rolland, I can’t pretend I’ve got much sympathy for you.  I don’t like pretentious restaurants and phony French food.  If I investigate this thing it won’t be to save your bacon.  But I happen to detest blackmail[.]  [pp. 22-23]
In Chapter Twelve, Carolus visits a pub:
The Old Cygnet had been constructed from antique materials on a site once occupied by an inn of that name.  It was dark with oak blackened, some of it, by time and smoke, some by artificial means.  The architecture was so Tudor that one’s head was in constant danger of being bumped by overhanging beams and its decoration included a miscellany of eighteenth century curios, warming-pans, horse-brasses, hunting horns, all the familiar items from the shops of the more conventional antique dealers.  It was served by wenches in mob caps and waiters wearing leather aprons and knee breeches.  [p. 116]
Later, Carolus visits another restaurant:
The Tourterelle when he found it had a very different ambience, being so extravagantly Gallic that a Frenchman would have recoiled.  It looked expensive with its pseudo-bistro throw-away simplicity and the hand-written à la carte menu shewing at the door proved that it was so.  Scampi à la Tourterelle cost 30s., Carolus noted, and other items were proportionately priced.  The bistro atmosphere was maintained inside where the waiters were casually dressed and the proprietor, whom Carolus recognised from published photographs, wore clothes that might have been designed by Parisian couturier [p. 120]

In Chapter Eight of Death by the Lake (1971), Mr. Gorringer dines with Carolus and assesses the meal:
‘a princely repast, my dear Deene. I see that your good Mrs. Stick has lost none of her cunning’  [p. 98]