About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Local Food Experiences in Crime Fiction and Real Life

Love of food is universal. Many crime fiction sleuths are as passionate about food as they are about solving murders. Nero Wolfe was far more concerned about eating well than murders. Recently a pair of mysteries I read show how different cultures love food amidst murder investigations. Sharon and I seek out local food experiences when we travel.

In The Key Lime Crime by Lucy Burdette the focus of the story is key lime pie in Key West, Florida. The traditional filling features simple ingredients - key lime juice, condensed milk and eggs. Almost infinite variations exist upon the theme. It is anathema to use green food colouring.

Hayley Snow, food critic for the Key Zest magazine, enjoys a wide variety of food from fast food to ethnic to fine dining. Every day in mid-winter is a rush as Hayley bustles around the city sampling foods. As well she is asking questions related to murder.

In Murder in Chianti by Camilla Trinchieri rural Tuscany in the fall is also bustling with tourists. What is different from Key West is that in both restaurants and homes the cooking is Italian. Most are Tuscan recipes. A few southern Italian dishes may be tried.

Former homicide New York homicide detective, Nico Doyle, has a measured pace to his days. Even as he assists the Italian police he is not in a hurry.

For Hayley and many Key Westers a quick bite to eat, especially in the morning, is common. The Tuscans sit down in cafes for their bite to start the day. Doyle enjoys a coffee and cornetti with friends.

In Key West diners enjoy food from near and far. The bounty of America and the Caribbean is featured. In Tuscany they eat the food of their region. Not a dish was mentioned that used food from outside Italy.

Both sleuths are serious about food. Each loves to cook. They are patient with careful preparation. Meals are made to be shared with family and friends.

To welcome her mother-in-law to Key West, Hayley prepares a “hominy and shrimp stew … with hominy from a mail-order bean company …. and fresh Key West pink shrimp”.

For a supper with the two carabinieri he is aiding, Nico prepared a sauce:

Thinly sliced leeks, broccoletti and mushrooms browned in butter, then wetted with a little white wine. Once the wine had almost evaporated he’d added vegetable broth, salt and pepper and let it summer until slightly thickened. The last touch was whisking in a few tablespoons of mascarpone.

He served the sauce with penne.

We have been to Tuscany. Sharon and I visited a village like Gravigna of Murder in Chianti. We climbed to the top of a ruined tower to look across the countryside. On the way down we met a 90 year old woman on her way to get some food from the market to make her lunch. We had a lovely meal at a vineyard with some fine wine though the “Super Tuscans” were far too expensive for us to sample.

Our recent cruise took us to Key West but we did not have time to have a meal there.

Later on the cruise we did have a wonderful local food
experience in the Lake District of Chile. We went ashore at Puerto Montt with Chef Noelle from the Oceania Cruise Line’s ship, Marina. We took a bus to the market where we met Chef Richard. 

He took us through the market. We saw freshly caught fish, the largest mussels I have ever seen, beautiful fresh vegetables and fruits. While talking to us about the food of the region, he was purchasing what looked best for a meal he would cook for us.

We went to the nearby German influenced town of Puerto Varas where beautiful roses grow everywhere. The photos in this post were taken in the market and Puerto Varas.

While we were in and around the town square Chef Richard was cooking. When we returned to the restaurant an amazing meal was ready.

We started with raw mussels sprinkled with lime juice.

Fresh sea urchin was next.

Ceviche with dried kelp followed.

A creamy herb soup with smoked mussels was then served.

A pomfret filet, steamed asparagus and roasted potatoes were the main course.

Dessert was a silky sabayon with fresh cherries with a touch of a local liquor infused.

Chilean wines and beers accompanied the meal.

When we were done Chef Richard sat down and chatted about food and life in Chile.

We were happy travellers on our way back to the ship.


  1. That meal sounds delicious, Bill! I'm glad you met up with Chef Richard. And you make some interesting points about crime-fictional food, too. I'm thinking, for instance, of Andrea Camilleri's Salvo Montalbano, for whom good food is just a natural part of life. The same is true for Martin Walker's 'Bruno' Corrèges series. Where he lives, good food i a simple, but important, part of life. It's taken seriously, if that makes sense.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I agree food enhances much crime fiction. I found it interesting that both of your examples involve European sleuths. It has been some time since you did a "pie" analysis. You could consider which area of the world has the most sleuths devoted to food.