Sometimes the best way to experience a piece of pop culture is with a food that matches its mood
Rohit and Pia read and cook; and maintain the wonderful blog Two Admirable Pleasures. Pia reads and reviews a book, and Rohit concocts a brilliant recipe to go with it (think Mint Juleps with The Great Gatsby, or an Apple Pie with Tom Sawyer). They will be sharing their wonderful book-food combinations for our readers at My Big Red Bag occasionally, as part of our Monsoons and Pakodas series. To start with, the perfect dish to pair with every single one of this year’s Best Picture Nominees
Phew. We needed a few days to recover from our Oscar Party. There was a frenzy of cooking over the weekend, and before that, a frenzy of movie watching. This year, there were a great number of movies that were based on true stories, with some really difficult film to food conversions, but hopefully we made it work. Let us know what you think. Here are the nominees:
Dallas Buyers Club: Based on a true story, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) plays the lead role of a macho, highly sexualized cowboy, who learns that his philandering and drug shooting ways have resulted in his contracting HIV. In these early days, when little was known about cures or how to manage symptoms, AZT was one of the first drugs on the market. The movie follows Ron’s journey as he seeks the healthy cocktails of drugs that can help him and his fellow AIDS sufferers as they try their hardest to survive one of the largest scale health catastrophes in history. We served the AZT Cocktail: Absolut Vodka, Zico Coconut Water and a Twist of orange peel (not pictured)
Nebraska: Woody Grant is convinced that the mega sweepstakes notification he has received in the mail means that he is the rightful recipient of one million dollars, and he’ll stop at nothing to get to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim his prize. When he returns to his hometown with his son in tow, his past greets him and it isn’t necessarily pleased to see him. What’s worse: Woody is an alcoholic who doesn’t believe that beer is alcohol, and drinks far more than a man his age should. We served Craft Beer (not pictured)
Gravity: While there wasn’t a whole lot of plot to this movie, the visual effects were truly stunning. A space mission goes awry and three astronauts are lost in space. The majority of the movie takes place in space and as a viewer, you feel truly weightless watching the actors (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) float around in the abyss. To give our guests that similar sensation, we made Lighter-than-Air Cheese Gougeres.
The Wolf of Wall Street: Martin Scorcese’s blockbuster tells the true story of Jordan Belfort who stole, swindled, conned, snorted and screwed his way to riches. The movie is replete with cocaine, hookers, nudity, yachts and sex. While all of it is rather crude, many of the stockbrokers involved with the actual scam have avowed that the retelling of this tale is actually pretty truthful. As a nod to Belfort’s decadent nature, we served Mini Brioches with Crab Salad, Fried Onion, Dill and Salmon Roe.
And as an homage to Wall Street’s love affair with steakhouses, we served steakhouse sides:Creamed Spinach,
Roasted Asparagus with Crispy Garlic,
and Roasted Potatoes Tossed in Truffle Oil
12 Years a Slave: One of the most brutally honest movies we watched, it tells the true story of Solomon Northrup, an emancipated black man living in the North who is tricked and sold into slavery down South unbeknownst to his family. As the title suggests, for twelve years, he lives in abject slavery. As he eats blackberries one night, he notices the juice trail they make across his tin plate and gets the idea to create some ink and write a letter to his family so that they might rescue him. We served Blackberry Cornbread.
Her: One of my favorite movies from this year, Her is a charming – albeit rather bizarre – story of a man who falls in love with his operating system, similar to the Siri that we iPhone users all know and love. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) realizes that Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is more of a woman than he’ll ever meet in real life, and he embarks on a relationship with her. On one of their “dates” at a carnival, Samantha forces him to close his eyes and steers him towards a pizza truck where he orders a slice without knowing what he’s just bought. We made a Pesto Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella.
Captain Phillips: A dramatic, edge-of-your seat true story about a container ship trying to make a delivery that is hijacked by a handful of Somali pirates. Masterfully played by leads Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi, at times, you’re never sure whose side you’re on. As one can imagine, food doesn’t play much of a role here, but the pirates are constantly chewing khat, a hallucinogenic plant that staves their hunger. We made our own: Fried Parsley “Khat” with Cajun Seasoning, though this was so delicious that it most certainly did not stave our hunger.
American Hustle: What happens when the FBI forces a con man to work for them? Take some really big 70s hair, lots of plunging necklines, some serious Longuyland accents, and the Italian mafia and you’ve got the ingredients for American Hustle. We were inspired by the Italian connection, and mostly by Richie DiMaso’s (Bradley Cooper) hair to make: Jheri Curl Fusilli Bolognese.
Philomena: The true story of an Irish woman who lives in a convent and gives birth to a child out of wedlock. Years later, Philomena wonders what became of the son that was taken away from her and adopted by strangers. The Guinness harp plays a major role in uncovering the truth about her son, so we made a Chocolate Guinness Cake.
One of our guests surprised us with another dessert for Gravity: Astronaut ice cream.
Ultimately, at the end of a long, but very festive night, the winner was 12 Years A Slave. Which dish would you award the winner of the night?