Saturday, May 29, 2010

Salted coffee à la Lew Archer

For years I've been thinking that there's a scene in one of Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer novels, where Archer asks someone - a chef or some such - to put salt in coffee that's been forgotten on a coffee machine and reheat it. The salt is supposed to take away the bitter taste that's stuck on the coffee. I've mentioned this scene on one or two forums before - such as the Rara-Avis e-mail list -, but so far no one has verified there really is such a scene in one of Macdonald's novels.

But just the other day I was reading Ask For Me Tomorrow by Margaret Millar (you know, Ross Macdonald's wife) and there the scene was. Well, it wasn't actually what I had had in mind, but still close enough. Lawyer Tom Aragon has a cup of coffee with a woman who's related to the case he's working on and he thinks that a cinch of salt would take the stale aroma out of the coffee. Ask For Me Tomorrow is a book where Ross Macdonald's effect on Margaret Millar is very visible - in fact, some of the scenes could've well been written by Macdonald, especially the ones with Aragon. (The book changes the point of views pretty clumsily, and the ones without Aragon are not as worthy as the ones with him.) So, it's entirely possible that I've been thinking about this book - which I remember reading already in my teens, in the Finnish SAPO series in which Millar's novel came out in 1980 - and just getting it confused with a Macdonald.

Or then there is a similar scene in one of the Lew Archers. Maybe the writing couple did it on purpose. "You put this scene in this book, I put it here in one of mine."

As for putting salt in your coffee, just read this conversation thread.

And by the way, here's a recent post by Steve Lewis about Millar. There's some interesting discussion in the comment section.

1 comment:

Randy Johnson said...

Years back I worked in an office where a pot of coffee was kept going all day(you get the last cup, you make the next pot). The brewing process included one of those little packets of salt(never forget that) you get in fast food restaurants. I still make it that way at home.