This study is one of the very few academic works to investigate cooking as a prime category of detection. It examines how cooking and eating transform the identity of the detective, the nature of the crime, the space of mystery, the time of fiction, and even our engagement with the text. Since its inception at the end of the nineteenth century the detective genre featured a man immune to passions and feelings who solved mysteries using his rational powers. Rationality was aligned with impenetrability, suppression of the affective and annulment of the body. When crime writers in the 1920s and 30s feminized the formula they introduced the body as cognitive tool. The detective, who now thought crime through his emotions (frequently referred to as intuitions), substituted the philosophy of epicurism for the old economy of asceticism. Pleasure came to be a thoughtful practice and part of this pleasure was obtained in the mouth: 'Eating,' says Hercule Poirot, 'was not only a physical pleasure, it was also an intellectual search.' Nero Wolfe had a cook called Fritz, Inspector Jules Maigret enjoyed so much the dishes prepared by Mme. Maigret that Robert J.
Courtine translated them into recipes in 1975. Pepe Carvaiho's books are filled with exquisite menus and sophisticated knowledge. If the male detective was feminized through his palate, the female detective was masculinized through her absence of taste. To figure a woman as detective caused already enough disruption in this masculine genre, so writers did their best to deny her gender. More often than not she just grabbed anything as if eating was an annoying necessity. At the end of the 1980s, in the wake of post-feminism, influenced by TV cooking shows and responding to the rising obsession with food hedonism that still drives us today, a group of writers brought together women, detection, cooking and eating in novels that not only aimed at entertaining our time but at teaching cooking methods.
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd