A Nero Wolfe primer (in cookies) June 28, 2010Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Sweet things.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of ways you’ve found this blog. The first way: you’re a Nero Wolfe fan and have stumbled across this blog in searching for information or discussions on Nero Wolfe. The second way: you know nothing about Nero Wolfe but are generally interested in food, and have found this blog because of a specific recipe or a search you’ve done.
So, for the education of the second group – and the entertainment of the first – I present to you: a Nero Wolfe primer, for you to understand exactly who Nero Wolfe is and who else inhabits his world.
To begin: the star and central character: Nero Wolfe.
Nero Wolfe is known for a number of characteristics – he weighs a seventh of a ton, he collects and breeds orchids, he is a gourmet, he is a ‘champion beer drinker’ and he is a genius. He lives in New York, in a brownstone on West 35th Street.
Nero Wolfe rarely leaves his brownstone, and never merely on business. He solves detective cases by having others brought to his house so that he may interview or observe them, or by processing reports brought in by others. Wolfe maintains a rigid daily schedule which is never altered, except in the most serious of emergencies. This schedule involves 4 hours tending to his orchids, a lunch of at least an hour (with the proper amount of time for digestion afterwards), and a 3-course dinner. In order for Wolfe to live in what he would consider an appropriate manner, his household consists of what others would consider slightly unusual staff. First of all: Fritz, his chef.
Fritz is Swiss, and is a keen student of all culinary masters. He has busts of great chefs in his bedroom, and over 200 cookbooks. Fritz is generally not interested in the criminal cases Wolfe is involved in, but is hopeful that the cases Wolfe gets are ‘good cases’ so that Wolfe receives money and Fritz can furnish the appropriate culinary supplies.
Wolfe also needs money to support his other hobby: orchid breeding and collecting. The top floor of the brownstone is devoted to the orchids and it is estimated he has over 10,000 orchids.
Wolfe corresponds with other collectors, swapping both plants and information. He occasionally (begrudgingly) opens his house so members of various orchid and plant societies can view his collection. Wolfe has cool-climate, warm and tropical orchids. He has orchids with swirls and spots:
He even has some very rare and unusual black orchids, given to Wolfe at the conclusion of a case.
To support his food and orchid interests, Nero Wolfe is forced to work. He is considered a genius, with the ability to solve cases the police (and others) have given up on. Given his reluctance to leave the house, Wolfe employs Archie Goodwin, also a detective, to do his legwork and generally follow up on any questions that arise during the course of the investigation. Archie also lives at the brownstone, acting as general household manager and security for Wolfe, as well as acting in his professional capacity as a detective.
As Wolfe is usually not present while Archie is investigating, Archie has trained himself to remember conversations verbatim, so that he can report them back to Wolfe on his return home. Archie is fashionable, and likes to go dancing at the Flamingo. Wolfe considers Archie an expert in women, as Wolfe himself despises most women and feels he often cannot get the information required as efficiently as Archie.
Archie has a longstanding relationship with Lily Rowan.
Lily is a socialite, coming into money from her father. Archie and Lily never stop each other from seeing other people, but have an understanding of sorts. Lily helps Archie and Wolfe out with cases where she can, and is one of the few women Wolfe respects. She also has an interest in culinary creations and Wolfe is tempted out of his house on more than one occasion to try some dish or other with ingredients procured by Lily.
There are other characters in the Nero Wolfe universe of course – but as a starting point I commend to you the above characters. They are interesting and well-rounded, and in the form that they are presented to you here, also very very delicious!