The Shingle of Southsea Holmesian Society
Monthly Meeting Minutes
Date of Meeting: 16th October 2021
Location of Meeting:
The Sherloft, My House, Portsmouth, UK
"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller)
"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) provided the following toast to Dr. Watson's egg spoon:
Egg spoon -
Spoon for egg -
Used by doctor
Who was shot in leg.
Or possibly arm.
"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) made a sort of shifty motion with his left hand.
"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) gave the following presentation of an essay he wrote regarding Canonical cheese.:
The Cheeseboard of Sherlock Holmes
One of the important yet neglected branches of Holmesiana is that of Sherlock Holmes's association with cheese. There is clear evidence in The Canon for the great detective's turophile status which has, hitherto, gone unnoticed. I list here, then, the many cheeses spoken about in The Canon in the hopes of highlighting another facet of Holmes's character.
Holmes’s love of cheese might surprise some readers of The Canon. At first glance, there appear to be only three mentions of the dairy product.
Once in A Study in Scarlet:
“The theories which I have expressed there, and which appear to you to be so chimerical are really extremely practical—so practical that I depend upon them for my bread and cheese.”
Once in The Blanched Soldier:
“It wasn't merely that ghastly face glimmering as white as cheese in the darkness.”
And once in The Sussex Vampire:
“The doorsteps were worn into curves, and the ancient tiles which lined the porch were marked with the rebus of a cheese and a man after the original builder.”
But The Canon hides many secrets in plain sight and one need only take a second look to spot the many other references to cheese. For example, were you aware that Holmes was a fan of edam?
In chapter five of A Study In Scarlet we find:
““Old woman be damned!” said Sherlock Holmes, sharply.”
Edam is right there, hidden in Holmes’s sharp exclamation. And that’s not the only place it can be found. From The Engineer’s Thumb we find:
“…the plaster was peeling off the walls, and the damp was breaking through in green…”
From The Three Gables:
“But she is the ‘belle dame sans merci’ of fiction.”
The Sign of the Four:
“‘Then my comrade and I will swear that you shall have a quarter of the treasure which shall be equally divided among the four of us.’”
There are a total of thirty-two such references to edam scattered throughout the stories. Holmes must have been a massive fan of this mild-flavoured, semi-hard cheese. And that’s not surprising – it makes great cheese on toast.
Brie also seems to be a favourite. For example, in The Dancing Men:
“A nice old brier with a good long stem of what the tobacconists call amber.”
This is just one of eighteen such mentions.
The Welsh cheeses are given a far more vague reference. As, for example, in A Study in Scarlet:
“In one place he gathered up very carefully a little pile of grey dust from the floor, and packed it away in an envelope.”
There can be no doubt that this is a reference to the sound-alike Caerphilly cheese. The hard crumbly pale cheese is indeed quite like a “little pile of grey dust” in both appearance and flavour.
From The Greek Interpreter there is the following scene in The Diogenes Club:
“…cautioning me not to speak, he led the way into the hall. Through the glass paneling I caught a glimpse…”
“Hall-through-the”. How obtuse would one need to be not to immediately recognise the presence of Halloumi – the goat cheese which is often used as a substitute for meat? The dubious similarity in sound between “hall-through-the” and “halloumi” no doubt represents the dubious similarity between the taste of halloumi and actual food.
But that’s not the only cheese to be found in The Greek Interpreter – the English staple cheddar also appears:
“My companion let down the window, and I caught a glimpse of a low, arched doorway with a lamp burning above it.”
It is, perhaps, surprising not to find more references to cheddar. It is, after all, the best cheese in the entire world. But the only other mention I could find was in this same story:
“We had reached our house in Baker Street while we had been talking.”
The Six Napoleons adds a classic Swiss cheese to the cheese board, albeit with one “m” issing:
“No explanation save mental aberration can cover the facts.”
Blue cheese comes from The Blanched Soldier in the form of some delicious stilton:
“All evening, though I tried to think of other things, my mind would still turn to the apparition at the window and the rudeness of the woman.”
The Final Problem sees some Greek cheese join the cheese board:
“The question now is whether we should take a premature lunch here, or run our chance of starving before we reach the buffet at Newhaven.”
The context seems to suggest starvation is an option on a par with eating feta. This is because feta is awful.
So there we have it, the cheeseboard of Sherlock Holmes would contain edam, brie, Caerphilly, halloumi, cheddar, emmental, stilton and feta. No doubt there are more still to be found, but I believe this will do to be going on with.
Any Other Business: