There are so many things that I wanted to do in my life but was too afraid to venture out and actually do them. My biggest blunder was going to my dad and having him always shooting down my ideas. I really respected my dad's opinions and I never wanted to disappoint him. So, I ended up living the life he wanted me to have, not the life I should have been living.
How I like it
My dad had an answer for everything. Here are some of the things we talked about.
I want to act: There are no bankable black actresses. This was 1976, so that was partially true. I wanted to open up a campus coffee shop: No one wants to sit around drinking high price coffee all day long. That kind of business will never work. Well Daddy, Starbucks opened up in 1971 and as of September 07, their annual income was $672.6 million. No wonder they have bucks in their name. They just recently had to close down 600 stores. I guess this economy is changing everyone's habits.
I had another crazy idea but I never told him. Because this was one of my all time dreams and I didn't want him to crush it with reality. I wanted to blend my love of great food and my love for cinema. Everyone I knew thought I was crazy. Yeah, crazy like a fox! I first experienced food and cinema together when I first went to the SXSW film festival in Austin, Texas. I was constantly going to movie premieres, conferences and meet and greets with directors. There was little time to get a bite to eat. There was this one movie theater that allowed the festival goers to watch the premieres while they ate. This assured that I would get a bite to eat and I could also see whatever movie was premiering that day. Plus, it was during Lent and I couldn't eat any red meat. This was the very first time I had chicken pizza and it was killer. Here is a tip from me. Don't ever go to Texas during Lent. The food is so great there that you want to be able to eat everything!
I thought food and cinema was a great idea. But, I just wanted people to eat food based on the movie they were watching. However, I only wanted three things on the menu. Chinese food, hamburgers and hotdogs and Italian food. I figured if I could only have three things on the menu this would covered most movies. If not, so what. That got me thinking about all the movies with food in them. Not just in the title, but movies that showed people actually eating.
There have been so many movies that I have watched that I actually wanted to eat the food that was on the screen. It seems that I am not the only person that has thought of this. I have found out that there are several Food in Film festivals (nycfoodfesitval.com) and you can also get movie recipes on line. There are over 3 million links to food in film references. I was so psyched. I thought I would check out the recipes then I would cook the food for my friends while they watched the movie. I will not be making any of the recipes from SILENCES OF THE LAMBS nor SOYLENT GREEN sorry people. Although, I thought both movies were excellent. I have never seen a fava bean and I don't drink wine. Plus, SOYLENT GREEN were just green color cheez- its. Man, that movie scared me! Charleston Heston was the man back
in the day!
One of the first movies that I picked was GOOD FELLAS. I love the scene where Henry is preparing the Veal Parmesan, while he is trying to elude the cops. He knows he's being tailed but he doesn't want to ruin his veal. That is a true chef. A lot of people won't eat veal because of the little baby calves. I agree that veal is called the cruelest meal because the way calves are raised. So, I stopped eating veal. But back in the day, I made mine a little different then Henry. I use more oregano then Italian seasoning because I was raised in Greece and I prefer the taste. I also used chicken instead of veal. I have learned to slice my garlic with a razor because it just melts in the pan. I learned that in this movie. See, who says that movies aren't educational? One thing I liked about watching this movie is that they eat so much wonderful food. This is not a movie you should watch if you are hungry. Besides the veal scene, I also love it when Paulie and the guys all go to prison and they are eating better then the people outside. They are cooking up steak with all the trimmings in prison. I mean that is the life right? My girlfriends didn't even bother to even watch the movie. They prefer to watch "girlie movies". But comedies don't really fill you up like mobster movies do. They just dug into the food while the movie played in the background. I was pretty impressed with myself since one of my girlfriends is Italian and I didn't poison her. She did give me some tips on where to buy great Italian cheeses and not just use the ones from the local store. I didn't try to cook any more recipes from the movies because my girls let me down. But, that won't stop me from letting you know about some more cool movies to check out that will get your mouth watering. You can't mention GOOD FELLAS with out mentioning THE GODFATHER. Italians just know how to cook a great meal. If you think I am wrong about that, I dare you to watch BIG NIGHT in the kitchen!
Quentin Tarentino is a weird dude but PULP FICTION is a masterpiece and the scene with Travolta and Uma Thurman at Jack Rabbit Slims is a classic. Let's first talk about the Quarter Pounder. Travolta asks Jackson, what do they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France. "A Royal with cheese because of the metric system." I always loved that phrase and have always wanted to have a Quarter Pounder. To this day, I have never eaten one. Quarter Pounders scare me. True story, I have only ever ordered two Quarter Pounders in my life. One was on morning of April 19 and one was on September 11. I never ate these burgers because all hell was breaking out around me. I really would like to actually taste one. But the odds are against me on this. So this is one food item that I will never order or ever get a chance to eat. I know this sounds silly, but why chance it? I will continue to stick to my Big Mac. It's amazing how much Thousand Island dressing can improve a burger. The best burger (for me) is at The Vortex in Atlanta. You have to try their Black and Blue burger. But, I can't go to any of their locations, because they won't allow children in their restaurants. So, bite me Vortex. When my
daughter turns 18, I will be back.
Royale with Cheese
The next movie was SOUL FOOD. I didn't actually cook any of the food in the movie, my sister came over for the weekend and I talked her into cooking. She is a better cook then I am. Trust me when I tell you she makes the best ribs, (my dad's recipe), Mac and cheese and greens. Let me stop here. I just wanted to say that my dad gave my sister his rib recipe before he died. He didn't give it to me I guess he thought I would let it go to waste. So, she is the designated rib cooker in our house. I have tried watching her as she marinates the ribs the night before and re-create it in my own kitchen. But, it never turns out right. That's okay because he left me his fried fish recipe and I ain't letting that go!
Just like in the movie, my mother would make a big Sunday dinner. We would have BBQ ribs and chicken, a pot of greens with corn bread, mac and cheese (always), pasta salad, potato salad, green beans and some kind of dessert. My mom would usually cook enough for our family and another helping of food just in case some of our friends happened to "drop by." I've come to a lot of realizations over the years. One of them being that, I will never be able to cook soul food; I just don't have the touch. I can follow a recipe to a fault. But, to add a pinch of this or a dash of that is out of the question. When I put my "foot into a meal," let's just say you don't want to be there to eat it. I am more of a Mediterranean cook. I can cook all the Greek, Italian or Spanish food that you want. But the soul food that comes out of my kitchen may kill you. It's definitely not good for the soul. So when I want some good home cooking I go home to mamas or I call my sister up to come over and visit. Then, I can get a real home-cooked meal. Now, that I think about it. We do a lot of cooking in this office and I just want to say for the record a lot of you that think you are cooking soul food you are highly mistaken. Because true banana pudding had nothing to do with jello and you don't parboil ribs!
There are a lot of movies that I just submerge myself into and LAST HOLIDAY is one such movie. Don't see this movie hungry. There are so much eating in this movie that it should be a sin. Some of the food I wouldn't have eaten, but for the most part it was one of those movies that you wish you could scratch and sniff the film. You know this movie is going to have some delectable food scenes when scene two opens up with Georgia (Queen Latifah) in the kitchen eating breakfast. I knew this was going to be my kind of movie. The film really kicks into high gear when Georgia goes to the Grand Hotel Pupp and orders her first meal. She is unsure which entrée she wants so she orders them all. I have always wanted to do that. So they bring her lamb with risotto, roasted quail with blood orange relish, lobster and the goulash. Georgia also helps out in the kitchen when there is an avalanche, and you can practically smell the food sautéing in the pan. I had to wipe my eyes when she was chopping the onions. I see why Chef Didier falls in love with her. I fell in love with her myself. Also see Gerard Depardieu in JEAN DE
FLORETTE/MANON SPRINGS and VATEL.
I love these guys
CHOCOLAT I absolutely love this movie. It is so romantic and lovely and there is chocolate all through this movie. Chocolate and Johnny Depp, was just too much for me to handle. I have to admit I didn't make a lot of the recipes in this movie. Why bother to cook the recipes when I can just go to the Godiva store and eat until I go into a diabetic coma. I did however go to different chocolatiers to taste some of the samples. You know you can taste the sample at these stores. Just like in the movie where Juliette Binoche gives the townspeople samples of what she had made. That was such a neat trip. Because you don't crave what you have never tasted. The one dish I did make was the hot chocolate with the chili pepper. I like a little cinnamon in my hot chocolate or my coffee. But the chili pepper takes a little getting used to. Years ago I did experiment with a chocolate croissant but they are too decadent and rich for everyday enjoyment.
WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY was made overseas and produced by David Wolper. I know this because I went to school with his kids. Our school was invited to go to the premiere and for some reason I was sick and didn't go. I was so pissed and I never went to watch the movie. In 2004, I told my then boyfriend Rick that story and he presented me with the movie on DVD as a Christmas present. I was so excited, but once Christmas was over, I just flung in my entertainment center were it sat for another 2 years. I finally did go back and watch the movie, I was just pissed that I never saw it with the rest of my class. I think about the Wolper boys every now and then when I come across one of their latest projects.
Food and film should go together because both are great forms of entertainment. When I think about all the good times that I have had with family and friends it usually is around the holidays and it usually involves food. It's not a coincidence that we eat during life's many milestones. We eat at baby showers, weddings, birthdays, holidays, graduation and we definitely eat at funerals. People understand that when all else fails serve them food! Food has a way of taking us back to that special place were everything is wonderful. That is why we call certain food comfort food. Because once you taste a particular morsel, it takes us back to a time in our life that brought us happiness. Sometimes it could be just the smell and we are instantaneously transformed back into our childhood. Now that I think about it, there is so much more to this food in film then I ever imagined. This column needs a sequel. I didn't even get a chance to take you back to the classics. ( FIVE EASY PIECES, COOL HAND LUKE, DINER and FRIED GREEN TOMATOES to say the least.)
There are so many outstanding movies out there that will titillate your palate. Don't take my word for it check them out yourself. Here is just a list of some of them: Bon appetite!
EAT,DRINK, MAN WOMAN, RAISE THE RED LANTERN, LA GRADE ABUFFATA, LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, TAMPOPO, BABETTE'S FEAST. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, 9 1/2 WEEKS, TWISTER.
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Monica is a freelance writer and playwright living in Atlanta.She is raising her daughter to appreciate life and movies. She is currently working on a book.|
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