Mise en Place Vs Messy Place – Release Your Inner Felix

by | Aug 24, 2017 | Uncategorized

an Fleming, 007’s creator, “describes in some detail seventy meals that James Bond consumes or considers eating.”* Culinary themes seem to go hand-in-hand with sleuths and spies of all stripes like Diane Mott Davidson’s caterer, Goldy Schulz; Robert Parker’s private eye, Spenser; and even Lilian Jackson Braun’s James Mackintosh Qwilleran and his cats, Yum Yum and Koko in “The Cat Who” series. (Koko is partial to salmon and crab.)

Retired CIA operative Jason Matthews joined this palate-pleasing group of literary gourmands in 2013 when he published “Red Sparrow” in which the CIA and Russia’s SVR – the Foreign Intelligence Service formerly known as the KGB – match wiles and wits.

<<< “Red Sparrow” the movie with Jennifer Lawrence & Joel Edgerton opens on March 2nd. If the movie is half as good as the book it will be tasty cinema!**>>>

One of author Jason Matthews’ bits of business is to end (as it is described in a review on the CIA website***) “every chapter with a description of a dish associated with that chapter’s locale.” Not surprisingly since many of the locales are Russian or East European, the recipes go heavy on cholesterol-laden Slavic dishes. Butter and sweet cream and sour cream are abundant. It reminded me of Julia Child’s remark that “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

During Chapter 24 three of the characters have lunch in the CIA cafeteria. A character named Sophie brings her lunch in a Sailor Moon lunch box which contains a cruet of salad dressing. So at the end of Chapter 24 there is a recipe for “Sophie’s Vinaigrette”. Unfortunately there are no ingredient measurements and the minimal directions could easily combine to fluster a beginning cook. In the interest of a literary and culinary detente, here’s an annotated version of “Sophie’s Vinaigrette”. “Priyatnogo салат!” (Russian for “Enjoy your meal!”

Sophie’s Vinaigrette
(Serves 2)

  • 2 T Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 T Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 large Garlic clove (mince VERY fine or use a garlic press)
  • ½ tsp Dried Dill Weed
  • ½ tsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • ½ tsp Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONSEmulsify with a whisk. If making larger amount use a small blender.