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September 13, 2007

Mr. Henry gives thanks

Filed under: Japanese Food,Reading — Mr. Henry @ 9:36 am

Still in his morning skivvies, Mr. Henry raises his eyes heavenwards to offer thanks for:

– the Genius Bar whiz kids who repaired Mr. Henry’s MacBook.

– high 75° with low humidity.

– the new Lyle Lovett.

– Liz the foot wrangler who is curing Mr. Henry’s fallen third left metatarsal.

– Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.Ben-Hogan-Print-C10097613.jpeg

And yet, Mr. Henry remains less than completely satisfied. He longs to integrate all his pleasures. He offers up a late summer prayer to be granted perfection in multi-slacking.

A novel by John Lanchester, The Debt to Pleasure, combines two of Mr. Henry’s principal interests – murder and food.

Through slyly brilliant description, Lanchester manages to make traditional English cooking seem positively sensual and murder seem downright defensible.

Mr. Henry hears your wry retort, “The English have always murdered their food.” Save it. Lanchester’s humor is way ahead of your own, possibly even ahead of Mr. Henry’s.




  1. I *love* ‘The Debt to Pleasure’–such a deliciously evil book! It’s worth looking in used bookstores for the hardcover version, which is much more beautiful than the paperback edition above.

    Comment by Julia — September 13, 2007 @ 6:48 pm

  2. A deliciously wicked murder mystery is always a treat, and I don’t know about you but I love many classic English dishes. Just as there’s crispy, golden, delectable fried chicken and there’s greasy, soggy, revolting fried chicken, there’s a solid, flaky-crusted, perfectly seasoned pork pie and one that is clearly a doorstop attempting to fool one into thinking it’s food.

    Bubble and Squeak, steak and kidney pie, a light, lucious Victoria sponge…the Brits have given us many a fine culinary pleasure, even if they do think canned baked beans make an indispensible breakfast treat.

    Comment by Twisite — September 14, 2007 @ 9:04 am

  3. The Debt to Pleasure is one of my favourite books; I loved the mushroom recipe! While I wouldn’t follow the protagonist’s methods to the letter, later in the fall when the mushrooms are springing up in the soccer field across the street and I can drag Hub’s Italian uncle (Zio Beppe) out there to show me which to eat and which not to….I’ll be doing it. Hub’s mum used to toss her ring in the pot with the mushrooms, if it turned black she tossed the contents, saving the ring of course and polishing it up. I realize that this is one of the old wives’ tales, but thus far no one has perished from lethal fungal imbibing.

    “Multi-slacking”. Oh Mr. Henry you are a king with words.

    Comment by Hilary — September 15, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

  4. I was enjoying my Sunday morning in all innocence, waiting for the medium syrup for the Pugliese plums to finish boiling, everything alright, really, with my little Umbrian world, when Lovett’s photo unscrolled across my screen.

    You have put me off my food, Mr. Henry. I think that in person an ugly man can be like a dash of bitters in the sauce, but that particular one needs all his other sensual clues to accompany food.

    I’m off to seek some desperate mushrooms.

    Comment by Judith in Umbria — September 16, 2007 @ 12:55 am

  5. Yes, Judith, Lyle does have an arresting countenance, and yet he won the heart and hand of Julia Roberts.

    Think of Lyle perhaps as an astringent morning mouthwash, an antique habit of American hygiene.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — September 16, 2007 @ 1:28 am

  6. Ah HA. “Arresting countenance.” Superfantastic.

    Comment by la petite chou chou — September 18, 2007 @ 10:14 am

  7. The Debt to Pleasure is one of my favorite books! I’ve owned three copies now, and they’ve all been borrowed and never returned. Now you’ve reminded me, I’m going to have to go order a fourth.

    The narrative voice reminds me of Nabokov. I’m all about the unreliable narrator.


    Comment by riona — October 5, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

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