Noir Fest and Dinner: The Maltese Falcon

So Paint very wow

I have nothing of substance to say about The Maltese Falcon that hasn’t been said one grillion times before and better. I liked that the festival opened with the first “true” film noir. I had remembered that it had the trope of voiceover narration, but I was mistaken. Obviously I was thinking of many other classic noirs. I enjoy the film, but more than that I think I liked watching the girls watch it. Strudel’s contribution was, “I have no idea what’s going on, but I like it.” That’s kind of my philosophy for life.

I drove Franny to school the next day and when we were alone she said she wanted there to be a true gold falcon inside of the lead one. “Sam could have been rich and never worked again!” We talked a little more and I got that she definitely grasped the theme of greed and its consequences that ran through it.

“I got something else out of it, too,” I said. “I think it was more about finding purpose in your life and what your life’s work is. Sam was a really good detective and he didn’t make a fortune off the deal, maybe enough to live on for a few months. He’ll continue solving crimes. The Fat Man was already rich; he didn’t really need another treasure. In the end the criminals ran off in pursuit of the falcon, which brought meaning to their sad lives.” She laughed.

This probably says more about my mental state in general right now that whatever Dashell Hammett intended.


I should talk menu a bit. IMDB tells me that the Maltese Falcon was released January 1, 1941. Wikipedia tells me it was released in October, 1941. I went with IMDB initially and tried to track down the first issue of Gourmet Magazine, which is not available locally. I tried to piece it together with some clever googling. I pulled some dishes out of the eleven course holiday meal contributed by Georges Gonneau from the Hotel Pierre.

Potage Pierre La Grand
Dinde Rôtie Des Artistes (avec Ses Tout Maquillages et Arrangements)
Salade Verte Tendre L’Estragon
Merlans à la Pluche Verte

I found the complete menu listed in this cool book online that I’d be interested in reading all of: Words to Eat By: Five Foods and the Culinary History of the English Language [2011] by Ina Lipkowitz, which includes an epilogue about the death of Gourmet.

Lipkowitz says exactly what I was thinking on first glance at seeing the list of recipes and articles from the scans on Serious Eats: “The forty-eight pages of Gourmet’s premier issue were nothing if not Francophile through and through.”

The notion of a holiday meal being presented in a January issue of a magazine is quaint, even though subscribers to modern cooking magazines routinely receive their issue a couple of weeks before the month printed on the magazine starts. I imagine it appeared on the stands before Christmastime. Today, of course, the January issues of food and lifestyle magazines trumpet eating light and New Year’s resolutions.

To roughly translate the above menu, what I selected was a salad with tarragon, fish fillets in a parsley velouté, a roasted chicken with herbs, and a very springy “Peter the Great” soup.

The soup called for a water base, but I like to add stock. I had some leftover mixed meat stock that I’d made about a month ago with saved chicken backs, veg, and various other bones. I cooked celeriac, celery, onions, and potatoes in the stock until they were tender. I blended it in the pot and added celery chunks to cook for a bit longer, and topped with chervil.

I forgot about how much I like chervil, which I used occasionally in my Victorian year. I really need to grow it next summer.

Somehow I accidentally bought tilapia, which was perhaps in the spirit of just-around-the-corner wartime rationing, but not to my liking. I have no idea how a person accidentally buys a type of fish they don’t like, except to say that I got it out of a frozen fish bulk bin. In this self-imposed cooking reality blog, I am my own wildcard challenge. I had some half and half in the fridge I’ve been feeding my hibernating milk kefir grains with, so I tried soaking the fillets but could not lose the fishy flavor completely. They were enjoyed by one half of the table but not the other.


I made the velouté out of coconut flour. It was edible, but not at all smooth like a flour gravy. Next time I will go back to my old Victorian pal, arrowroot.

The dinner came together well. I only roasted half a chicken, having used the other half in a Thai-style soup the night before. I pulled the tarragon out of my mini herb garden that I keep in pots on my back porch.

The chocolate guns and birds went over very well, surprising no one. We listened to some 1940s music while I cooked and during dinner. I think the inaugural night was a success. Next up is Out of the Past (1947).

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