February 13, 2024

Cocktail Talk: Maigret in Holland

Cocktail Talk: Maigret in Holland

My filling out of my Maigret collection continues! Wait, you say, you aren’t sure what I mean? I can’t believe you aren’t joking. You’re joking. Well, just in case, I mean specifically the Inspector Maigret novels and stories by writer Georges Simenon, starring the taciturn (at times) and methodical (until the mood hits) Parisian police commissaire. Please check out past Maigret Cocktail Talks to learn more, if you haven’t already. In my latest pickup, Maigret not only leaves his normal Paris stomping grounds, but leaves France altogether (the book name may give this away) for Holland, where a French citizen is involved in a murder case in a small Dutch town. As he doesn’t speak the language, and isn’t an official local cop, the case provides some wrinkles for our tall Inspector. But he still manages to find a café and a hotel bar for some mid-case sipping. And to teach the locals what drinking is all about.   

“You won’t refuse a little glass of brandy, will you? They have some good stuff here.”

“If you don’t mind, it’s my turn now,” said Maigret, in a tone that tolerated no opposition. “Only, since I don’t speak Dutch, I must ask you to order it for me. A bottle of brandy and some glasses.”

Pijpekamp meekly interpreted.

“Those glasses won’t do,” Maigret said when Madame Van Hasselt came bustling up.

He got up and went himself to get some bigger ones. Placing them on the table, he filled them right up to the rim.

“A toast for you, gentlemen,” he said gravely. “The Dutch police!”

“The stuff was so strong it brought tears to Pijpekamp’s eyes. But Maigret, with a smile on his face, gave no quarter. Again and again her raised his glass, repeating:

“Your health, Monsieur Pijpekamp! . . . To the Dutch police!”

–Georges Simenon, Maigret in Holland

August 9, 2022

Cocktail Talk: My Friend Maigret, Part II

my-friend-maigretIt’s been 8 years (!!!) since I had the first Cocktail Talk from the George Simenon book My Friend Maigret – which, if memory serves (sadly, it doesn’t serve as well as it once used to, hahaha), was the very first Inspector Maigret book I ever read, after picking up three at once at the now-much-missed Seattle Library Book Sale. Since, I’ve taken many a stroll with the taciturn-at-times slow-moving-at-times always-large always-interesting Maigret, and look to take many more, though my collection is getting nearer and nearer to full. What a treat to go back and read this yarn, which falls into the category of Maigret-outside-of-Paris in the main (there are a number of these, though not as many as in the city proper I don’t believe), as he and a tag-a-long Scotland Yard Inspector (in France to watch the famous Chief Inspector’s methods) end up on the Island of Porquerolles to solve the murder of an ex-con who had been bragging in one of the local bars (where they spend a fair amount of time, drinking the local white wine mentioned below) about his friend Maigret. There are many Cocktail Talk moments as usual with Maigret, don’t miss My Friend Maigret Cocktail Talk Part I’s anisette (and for that matter, check out all the Maigret Cocktail Talks), but the below has both the white wine and marc, the latter always a welcome addition.


“Did he go steal jewels in New York?”

“I rather think he’s in Paris,’ Mr. Pyke corrected him calmly, selecting a toothpick in his turn.

A second bottle of the island’s wine, which Jojo had brought without being asked, was more than half empty. The patron came over to suggest:

“A little marc? After the garlic mayonnaise, it’s essential.”

It was balmy, almost cool in the room, while a heavy sun, humming with flies, beat down on the square.

My Friend Maigret, George Simenon

November 23, 2021

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard, Part II

maigret-man-on-the-boulevardAnother quote from the Chief Inspector Maigret yarn I’ve been most recently reading (as opposed to all of those I’ve read in the past: check out all the Maigret Cocktail Talks to get a view into some of them – at least don’t miss the Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard Part I Cocktail Talk, to learn more about this particular book by George Simenon), one where our main character sits down in a very serious and thinking mood at his favorite of all Parisian spots – or the one he visits the most, which is saying something, though it is right across from his office – and gives the waiter a little of the Maigret-ness so many criminal have to deal with.

“What’s the Veau Marengo like?”

“Excellent, Monsieur Maigret.”

Without realizing it, he was subjecting the waiter to a look that could not have been sterner if he had been a suspect under interrogation.

“Beer, sir?”

“No. A half-bottle of claret.”

He was just being perverse. If the waiter had suggested wine, he would have ordered beer.


–George Simenon, Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard

November 16, 2021

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard, Part I

maigret-man-on-the-boulevardI’m back into another George Simenon yarn starring Parisian Inspector Maigret (there have been many Maigret Cocktail Talks you can browse at will), an ideal read for a rainy November day, as during a fair part of Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard Paris is engulfed in heavy rains. And our stolid, stoic, Chief Inspector (to give him his full due) moves along through the wet and dry and cloudy days in his own particular way: slow at times, thoughtful at times, dreamy (can I say that? I did!) at times, but always pushing forward. His case this time involves the murder of a man who had a second-life of sorts, pointed out first by the fact that he was murdered wearing light brown shoes, shoes which his wife swears he didn’t own, and which Maigret calls “goose-dung” shoes, due to the color. That’s amazing! Maigret follows the various threads, spooling them up one-by-one, while stopping for various sips along the way: wine, Calvados, aperitives, more, maybe even more than usual (one of the many reasons I love Maigret so much is his love of bars, bistros, brasseries, and other eating-and-watering holes. Even when they are around-the-corner, as in the below).


“Where to now chief?”

It was just eleven o’clock.

“Stop at the first bistro you come to.”

“There’s one next door to the shop.”

Somehow, he felt shy of going in there, under Leone’s watchful eye.

“We’ll find one round the corner.”

He wanted to ring Monsieur Kaplan, and to consult the street guide, to find Monsieur Saimbron’s exact address on the Quai de la Megisserie.

While he was there, having started the day with a Calvados, he thought he might as well have another, and drank it standing at the bar counter.


–George Simenon, Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard

June 15, 2021

Cocktail Talk: The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien

hanged-man-of-saint-pholienOne last stop on our month-or-such-of-Maigret, though I can’t imagine we’ll be leaving our Parisian Chief Inspector (the great creation of great writer George Simenon) for long – we’ve had a decent amount of Maigret Cocktail Talks, and let’s hope it won’t be the last. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien is another good Maigret read, a very interesting one, as Maigret manages to travel to Belgium, back to France, to history, to many secrets, to Armagnac, all by following a shabby traveler and on a hunch switching suitcases.


Maigret took selfish pleasure in his chilly response, but Van Damme sat down at his table anyway.


“You’ve finished? In that case, allow me to offer you a digestif . . .  Waiter! Well, what will you have inspector? An old Armagnac?”


He called for the drinks list, and after consultation with the proprietor, chose an 1867 Armagnac, to be served in snifters.


–George Simenon, The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien


June 8, 2021

Cocktail Talk: Two Bodies on a Barge

maigret's-pipeOur mini-Maigret-a-thon continues with another gem from the story collection Maigret’s Pipe (which is full of gems, don’t miss the “Mademoiselle Berthe and Her Lover” Cocktail Talk, or any of the past Chief Inspector Maigret Cocktail Talks). Here, Maigret is dealing with crimes and barges and waterways, as happens, and crimes, and gin!

And Maigret became ever more deeply absorbed in the slow, ponderous life of La Citanguette, as though only there was he capable of thought. A self-propelled barge flying a Belgian flag reminded him of Theodor, Aerts’s son, who must by now have reached Paris.


At the same time, the Belgian flag suggested the thought of gin. For on the table in the cabin there had been found a bottle of gin, more than half empty. Somebody had made a thorough search of the cabin itself and even tore open the mattress covers, scatter the flock stuffing.


Obviously, in an attempt to find the hidden hoard of 100,000 francs!


–George Simenon, “Two Bodies on a Barge”

June 1, 2021

Cocktail Talk: Mademoiselle Berthe and Her Lover

maigret's-pipeWe’re going to continue from last week’s Maigret moment into a little Maigret-a-thon, starting with a few Cocktail Talks (hey, don’t miss all the Chief Inspector Maigret Cocktail Talks, by the way) from the story collection Maigret’s Pipe, which has a host of hits starring George Simenon’s Parisian Chief Inspector, mainly leaning towards the latter part of his career and even into retirement (where he can’t stop solving crimes even if no longer on the French force). The story the below quote comes from is actually in the retirement phase, though with him back in Paris, drinking wine, and having one of his favorite dishes.


As Maigret paid for the drinks, he was already looking sprightlier than he had been earlier that morning, for he felt things had begun to move.


Roughly speaking, his impression was that the police were over-simplifying the situation and Mademoiselle Berthe was complicating it. Not far off there was a small restaurant favoured by taxi-drivers, with a couple of tables on the terrace, and as one them was free he sat down and discovered on the menu fricandeau a l’oseille, veal with sorrel, one of his favorite dishes.


The atmosphere was so redolent of spring, with light puffs of air so warm and fragrant that, particularly after a bottle of Beaujolais, he felt light-headed and wanted nothing better than to lie down on the grass with a newspaper over his head.


–George Simenon, “Mademoiselle Bertha and her Lover”


May 25, 2021

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Madwoman, Part II

maigret-and-the-madwomanI’ve been re-reading (until I can get my happy hands on some of the books and stories I don’t yet have) a couple of George Simenon’s marvelous Inspector Maigret stories and books lately. Like many of my favorite yarns by my favorite yarn-spinners, I like to read or re-read some Maigret every so often. It’s always enjoyable just to delve back into the wonderful Parisian/French and mystery/crime and memorable character atmosphere and world Simenon created. One of the books re-read not long ago was Maigret and the Madwoman, which touches on a murder and a crime, but also into the, oh, person of Maigret himself in a way that pulls you in – or me, at least! Since it’s a re-read, and since Maigret liked tipples of various sorts, not so surprising that there is already a Maigret and the Madwoman Cocktail Talk Part I (which you should read, along with all the Inspector Maigret Cocktail Talks). Part II, this one, is wine-centric, and ideal for a spring day like today. Actually, I think I’m going to continue my reading with a chilled glass of white wine myself!


On his way back to the Quai des Orfevres, Maigret stopped at the Brasserie Dauphine for a glass of white wine from the Loire. He didn’t feel like a beer. The white wine in the frosted glass, with just a hint of a sparkle, seemed more appropriate on this lovely spring day.


It was one of the slackest time of the day. Except for a delivery man in a blue apron, there was no in the café.


He decided to order another.


–George Simenon, Maigret and the Madwoman

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