RECIPES FOR LOVE & MURDER – mid-first-season thoughts – SPOILERS
Weeks after two probably related homicides, a lot of Eden’s townspeople seem worthy of suspicion. Anna (Daneel Van Der Walt), Martine’s would-be lover shares a gun fetish with Martine’s husband Dirk (Bennie Fourie). The two take target practice together in the Dirk’s barn, and dream of assassinating whoever it was that killed Martine. The town’s business leaders seem to object to The Gazette’s articles on workers’ rights, but might be using that as a pretext to stop Maria and Jessie from pursuing their private investigations into the murders. And speaking of fetishes, the local real estate guy, Marius Rabie (Grant Swanby), tried to get back together with one of his exes by anonymously leaving a doughnut on her doorknob every morning.
All of Martine’s family looks suspicious. After her mother’s funeral, Martine’s daughter Jamie (Chloe Stary) is talking to her grandfather Peter Joubert (Gerben Kamper) when he scratches his neck and suddenly collapses. When Peter awakens in hospital he is visited by his nephew David (De Klerk Oelofse) and Martine’s cousin Candace (Rolanda Marais). Candace, who drives the most interesting car on the show, a ’56 Borgwward Isabella cabriolet, seems bent on getting Peter to sign a codicil to his will changing it so that his entire estate goes to his granddaughter Jamie, and specifying independent trustees to supervise the inheritance. Peter wasn’t poisoned; he was allergic to the nutmeg in the milk tart.
Then there is John Robson (Neels Van Jaarsveld), the third person who was in love with Martine. John planted an orchard of pomegranates for her and it wasn’t enough. He is now married to Didi (Roeline Daneel), and did not tell his wife that he was having the occasional platonic interaction with Martine before she was killed. John says that he and Martine spoke about her problems with Mr. Rabie, who was pressuring her about “the property”. Both John and Didi can easily be added to the suspects list.
A Seventh Day Adventist pastor covertly follows Tannie Maria, allegedly to protect her during her investigations. When confronted, the pastor admits this, but denies sending death threats to Maria. (At least one of those threats was written in animal blood, which might point to the butcher as the culprit.)
At the same time, the pastor’s wife Georgie (Kazi Khuboni) is having a crisis of faith and composes a letter asking for advice. “Dear Tannie Maria,” she writes. “When it comes down to it, what do you think is more important, love or duty or God? My husband is a loving man and a great father, and a hard worker, but I’m finding all the rules really tiring. There’s no jewellery, no dancing, no women pastors, and no animal products. I wish my husband would be a little more flexible. I am starting to find life a little joyless, and I can’t imagine raising my daughter in this religion. Am I being unreasonable?”
Maria decides to bake Georgie “the feather lightest cake ever to help lift her spirits.” The first vegan recipe of the show appears in the form of a layer cake with a decorative fruit salad on top. (The closest thing to Tannie Maria’s cake might be this vegan vanilla cake recipe.) There is no apparent connection between paternalistic asceticism and veganism, so solving Georgie’s dietary difficulties will not likely help with her other philosophical problems, but the cake certainly won’t make them worse, and it does seem to cheer her up.
Eden‘s police are distracted from their work by everything and anything, including Tannie Maria’s food offerings, family problems, and their annual rugby match. (Lawrence, the second person to be murdered, sat in the cop shop for quite a while waiting to give a statement about the first murder, and finally left without doing so.) The head nurse at the hospital complains that officers guarding prisoners being treated there regularly wander off or fall asleep. It is no surprise, then, that the most successful detectives in the town are advice columnist Tannie Maria (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and investigative reporter Jessie September (Kylie Fisher)
Questions that remain to be answered: What property did Mr. Rabie pressure Martine about? The lawyer read only the “important part” of that codicil Candy wanted Peter to sign. What else might have been included in it? Why did Martine need a recipe from Tannie Maria to cook a dinner palatable to her husband when she had an entire shelf full of cookbooks in her kitchen? And what was it that made Anna pick up the bloody poker after she found Martine’s body?