I was rereading Hercule Poirot mysteries over the holidays–decided to just focus on the short stories this time, because I was still toying with my SF cozy mystery concept. Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories is a wonderful collection by the way.
A few things to note–but for later as I want to cover these topics in other essays: I love the easybreeziness of Agatha Christie’s prose. I love the fresh nowness, even while being pieces of a specific period. They read like overheard snatches of conversation. I also feel, deeply, for M. Poirot. There is a great sadness in these tales, often shown via his tiredness at the foibles of humanity, his disgust at the immorality and the inevitable pettiness of his fellow Mankind. Poirot is often seeking rest or escape from the rabble when it comes rushing at him again–as with the poignant scene atop the Mount of the Prophet in “Triangle at Rhodes,” when his serenity is broken by the jealous madness of the masses and, of course, murder.
But here I wish to only make a brief note of the great detective’s favorite drink, the Sirop de Cassis. It is a black currant liqueur–Poirot corrects, not a liqueur–that would probably be the white wine version popularized in Dijon, France by Felix Kir in the 1940s. However, these were all written before that time and Poirot favored the syrup of the berries or chocolate from the ‘Teens on up. So, then we get back to the original modern version which arose in 1841 Burgundy. In what form did he drink his elixir? We know he smacked his lips and ahhhed with pleasure as he sipped it. Was it pure currant syrup or a mixture of some kind? Why did he love it so? Was it simply a sweet delight or something much more? Because, this habit made me wonder, as black currants have hallucinogenic properties and were illegal in the United States for most of last century after a 1911 ban, if perchance Poirot drank black currant juice because of this additional, cerebral property?
Just a passing thought, but a whole new view of Poirot might open up in these little gray cells of mine.