Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Food and Drink in Chesterton - a puzzle

In a recent Thursday column I lapsed into hinting at one of the writing exercises I am attempting - a consideration from the biochemical view of food, sacrifice and sacrament. It was stimulated by a very interesting line from one of Chesterton's stories. Food, of course, appears a lot in Chesterton's writing, even in his fiction, and even the idea of food, or of fatness comes up time and time again. We all know about GKC's vast size; he liked to joke about it himself:

Heard during World War I: "Mr. Chesterton, why aren't you out at the front?"
GKC: "Madam, if you go around to the side, you will see that I am."

At a lecture in the U.S.: "I'm not this big, oh, no, not at all: I'm being magnified by the microphone."

Tyring to get out of a car: "Why don't you try to get out sideways?"
GKC: "I have no sideways."

GKC (to Shaw): "To look at you there's a famine in the land."
Shaw (to GKC): "To look at you, you're the cause of it."
[all quoted from memory]
Ahem. So, I have been poking through the collection of GKC's works, watching for useful mentions of food or drink... but since I have hardly begun the work on my food book, I thought perhaps we might have some fun with food and drink here.

So we have today's puzzle. Please attempt only one per comment, and give others a chance - that means, you only get one, unless you happen to answer incorrectly. Also, you must give some sort of citation to indicate the source. I cannot promise any prizes except for the fun. It's really just a mild form of Gype, without the water pistols. OK, ready? Put your batting gloves on, or your kneepads, and here we go:

1. What does Gabriel Syme order in the restaurant where the table is "a kind of screw"?
2. What does the Professor order to drink in the teashop when he catches Syme?
3. When Syme receives his "domino" blazoned with the sun and moon, what "spanking good things" are set out for him to eat?
4. What comestibles does Humphrey Pump provide in his mobile public house?
5. What dish does Father Brown consume "with the gravest sort of enjoyment"?
6. What condiments does Father Brown use to rescue someone from a murderer?
7. What is served at Innocent Smith's picnic on the roof?
8. What provides a certain "martyr" or "Christian anchorite", the "hermit standing on his head" with his one feast in the year? (Bonus point: on what day is the feast?)
9. What food does Gabriel Gale say is "better than jewelery"?
10. The proper use of what particular comestibles does Chesterton connect with thanksgiving? No, it is NOT a turkey.

Difficult bonus question: What specific food is Petersen eating when he declares that eating "is the bricks and mortar of the Temple of the Spirit"?


  1. 5. whitebait (The Wisdom of Fr Brown - The Duel of Dr. Hirsch)

  2. Ding! Correct!

    "His daily living being very plain, he had a peculiar taste for sudden and isolated luxuries; he was an abstemious epicure. He did not lift his eyes from his plate, round which red pepper, lemons, brown bread and butter, etc., were rigidly ranked, until a tall shadow fell across the table, and his friend Flambeau sat down opposite."

    An artistic presentation of a simple meal, as we might expect. Indeed, a mystic meal for a most mystic and ontological puzzle. What a veiled pun for a priest to eat fish! More on these topics some other day.

    OK, now... a prize for our first touchdown or whatever this is. I peer into the bag of prizes (some parts of the country use the term "sack" though I am not clear on where the sack/bag border is. Hee hee.) Hmm. Someone has NOT been to the fish store this week.

    Well, I don't have any whitebait to give away, so your prize is a piece of cheese of your choice. Now, let's see... this one looks nice, and it's the only one in the sack (or bag) anyway, so it has to be your choice. OK. Where do I push this into? Here?

    Error. Port is not configured for cheese.

    Oh. I forgot. I never installed that "cheese" device on my computer. Maybe the mouse has been after it. (hee hee)

    Unfortunately, you will have to select one from what you already have on hand - but I shall inform the referee (who is busy squirting someone in another game) to record your score.

    Thanks for playing, Christina!

  3. 6. What condiments does Father Brown use to rescue someone from a murderer?

    In "The Salad of Colonel Cray," Father Brown tips a couple of spoonfuls of mustard into a tumbler of water. The emetic saves Colonel Cray from being poisoned

  4. Ding! Correct!

    Yes, it was just one condiments - mustard. People love to pester us computer guys for not arranging our singulars and plurals correctly, even though there are some natural (human) languages which are completely uninflected. But the referee ruled that the question was "in bounds", though he did squirt me twice just for the fun of it.

    It is delightful to hear a mystery being worked out with biblical quotations: "Oh, there are sermons in a cruet-stand, too," said Father Brown, quite gravely. "Have you heard of faith like a grain of mustard-seed; or charity that anoints with oil? And as for vinegar, can any soldiers forget that solitary soldier, who, when the sun was darkened - "

    Incidentally, I noted that the computer error mentioned in my previous reply contained a very British joke - port (wine) is excellent with some kinds of cheese. Hee hee.

    Chris, your prize was supposed to be a dish of choice mustard, carefully ground and flavoured for use in preventing murders, but I think the mouse got into it. So, if you discover a poisoner at work, you'll have to use your own hot dog toppings.

    Thanks for playing, Chris!

    PS - check out the mysteries on my story blogg when you have a chance, and see what you think.

  5. I'm sorry– the link to your story blog doesn't work. Could you please relink to it?

  6. Oh, I am sorry about that, Chris.


    That was probably when I got squirted. Hee hee.

  7. 2. What does the Professor order to drink in the teashop when he catches Syme?

    I hate to be difficult, but I think it was in a bar that the Professor caught Syme. Since it won't ruin any other questions, the Professor had milk at every stop (which includes a teashop), but after confronting Syme in the bar he had a beer.

    The ensuing exchange is one of the best things I've ever read. Brilliantly imaginative and funny.

  8. Braaaapp! Ding! Er... Well...

    The ref decides you get squirted since he does order milk. I get squirted since it was a "foul tavern". But you also get a prize, since you do mention both.

    The correct answer is both - he orders milk first, and beer later.

    Your prize is supposed to be your choice of clean milk from a can or dirty milk from a cow, but you may prefer that I send you some cheese. I had trouble yesterday with getting it into the little slot, so you will have to enjoy your own cheese. Maybe with beer - or port. Not SCSI or USB or parallel or even cereal - but port wine. (Cereal port? Hee hee. It's like ceiling wax, to go with your floor wax.) By the way: why isn't there starboard wine? (hee hee)

    Yes, that episode is is one of the great scenes of the whole book, and has great words like "lacunae" and "involution"... One ought to buy the book, just for this one single hilarious line: "I am a portrait of the celebrated Professor de Worms, who is, I believe, in Naples."

    Don't choke on your cheese while you are reading it.

    Now I have to go have lunch so I can post my Thursday article. I am SO far behind today! Oh, well...

  9. Since no one has responded in a couple of days, I'll go again;

    4. What comestibles does Humphrey Pump provide in his mobile public house?

    He provides an enormous wheel of cheddar cheese and a barrel of good rum. At one point in "The Flying Inn," Pump cooks vegetables from the forest, like mushrooms, but he does not give them to anyone else besides Patrick Dalroy.

  10. Ahem. Oops... Oh, my. Where is that bell?

    Ding. Correct.

    Sorry, Chris, but I think the ref went home, and I'm behind in chores, so I won't give any humourous comments for now. I like cheddar, but detest rum - this has always kept me from having the fullest enjoyment I ought to have from this story. But I sort of "edit" it as I read, and interpret it variously as "wine" or "beer" depending on what I am in the mood for.

  11. +JMJ+

    I know I'm late, but I can't believe no one has answered the first question yet. As soon as I read it today, I screamed, "Lobster mayonnaise!"

    (Well, I'm fairly sure that it's lobster mayonnaise. I can't remember what drink he ordered, though.)

  12. You aren't late. Yes, Lobster Mayonnaise IS correct. Syme had champagne with it - "a half-bottle of Pommery" - which Gregory ordered, while he had a creme de menthe.

    They took the bell away since I was playing with it and annoyed my office-mates (or whatever those people are...) For your prize you may have either Cream or Menthe, as I have (hic) drinked all the cham-(hic)-plain. Hee hee.

  13. "7. What is served at Innocent Smith's picnic on the roof?"

    A bottle of "a vile sham claret from the colonies," greatly enjoyed by Michael Moon in particular...and that's all I can remember at the moment. What else was served at that immortal picnic, alas, eludes me.


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