Friday, January 6, 2006

Apple #138: The Count of Monte Cristo

I recently finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (incredibly, you can read it in its entirety online here).

This book is CRRR-AZY! It's like a soap opera, but French, and from a man's perspective. I mean, everything happens in this book. People are thrown into dungeons, there is buried treasure, illegitimate babies are dug up and carried off, people are poisoned left and right, someone proclaims their true heritage in a courtroom while women scream and faint, people are kidnapped by what seems to be a version of the Mafia, and that's not even everything that happens.

Here are some tangentially relevant facts:
  • Montecristo is an actual island. However, it is not off the coast of France as in Dumas' book, but between Italy and Corsica. Today, it is a hunting and nature preserve, and the only structure on the island is the ruins of a 13th century monastery.

The island of Montecristo

  • Alexander Dumas' grandmother was a black slave from what is now Haiti.
  • Although Dumas is now best remembered for Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, and The Man in the Iron Mask, he initially gained his fame by writing plays. He also dramatized his own fiction, so it is likely he would not object at all to his novels being made into movies.
  • He made tons of money, but he spent it like mad, too. His financial status was wildly up and down, and by the time he died, he was bankrupt. But, judging from this one book of his that I read, he maybe planned it that way.

Alexander himself.

  • The Monte Cristo sandwich apparently bears no relationship to the novel. Its name comes from a corruption of the name of a similar sandwich, the Croque Monsieur, which uses Gruyere cheese.
  • The Monte Cristo sandwich is made thusly:
    • Three slices of bread. Butter the bottom slice and add baked ham and chicken.
    • Butter the second slice on both sides, add more meat and also a slice of Swiss cheese.
    • Top with third slice, buttered side down.
    • Trim crusts, cut sandwich in two, toothpick it all together.
    • Fry in butter until golden brown.
    • Serve with strawberry or currant jelly, or cranberry sauce.
Dumas probably would have liked a Monte Cristo sandwich.

Sources, The Island of Montecristo
Food, history notes: sandwiches, Monte Cristo
Biographie d'Alexandre Dumas pere
MSN Encarta, Alexandre Dumas


  1. Mmmm, I know I would.

    Interesting stuff.

  2. The Count of Monte Cristo is an amazing book that portrays how revenge changes a man. Dante is sentenced to a life in prison from which there is no escape and for a crime he did not commit. He escapes and his only aim is to take revenge on those people who falsely accused him.I like the two contradictory parts of Dante’s character; the good person and the revengeful pirate, these add spice to this book.

    Author Alexander Dumas does really an excellent job in connecting all the events.

  3. Thanks for your take on the book, Bie. I'm glad you enjoyed it!


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