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Friday High Tea: Our Favourite Food Memories from Fiction

The best delicacies from the world of books and movies

From a mad tea party to a redolent Lunchbox, we’re living our ultimate fantasy!

Chocolate Memories

Sam,

I like Green Eggs and Hams!

I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!

The greatest chefs of the world insist that  you eat with all of your senses- with your eyes as you look at that Moebius-strip-like jalebi, with your nose as you are hit with the first waft of a cup of Colombian, with your taste buds (of course), and with your whole being as you explore the texture and flavours of that first morsel.

But sometimes you don’t need all of these senses, just an idea – and a  healthy dose of imagination. To celebrate the release of Daawat-e-Ishq, a film we are cautiously optimistic about here, are some of our most visceral food memories from pop culture. We cannot taste these delicacies, but we can well imagine how wonderfully decadent they will be.

Hannibal’s Mysterious Gourmand Pleasures

Hannibal TV Show

Jack Crawford: “What am I about to put in my mouth,”

Dr. Lecter : “Rabbit.”

Jack Crawford: “He should have hopped faster.”

For fans of food-porn, Hannibal presents a rare moral conundrum. The irrepressible monster Dr. Lecter produces the most gorgeous looking plates of food, often talking about it in terms that invite a moan of longing. The only catch?  The provenance of that meat. Remember Anthony Hopkins chewing out the syllables- ” fava beans and a nice Chianti?”.  And the new TV series nicely plays with the ambiguity by picturizing his food in soft sanguine close-ups that look equal parts inviting and repulsive.

Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka's Fantastic Chocolate Factory

Mr Willy Wonka can make marshmallows that taste of violets, and rich caramels that change colour every ten seconds as you suck them, and little feathery sweets that melt away deliciously the moment you put them between your lip.

We love it in the books, and we adore it in both the movie versions- that land of gumdrop trees and candy cane forests and never-ending chocolate rivers and streams.  But our favourite version of the factory is from the 1971 movie’s song- Pure Imagination. Just watch the children (and adults) succumb to the sugar temptations around them, and for a moment you can almost forget just how disturbing the rest of the tale is.

 

Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk- Rufus Wainwright

if i should buy jellybeans

have to eat them all in just one sitting

everything it seems i like’s a little bit sweeter

a little bit fatter

a little bit harmful for me

Us too!!! Rufus Wainwright is a notorious whiner. But we totally feel his pain in this song as he complains about the pleasures of excess, and how everything wonderful is also harmful in extremes (unfortunately)

Julie/Julia, And that first morsel of Sole Meuniere

And we don’t even like sea food!! But just watch Meryl Streep burst into paroxysms of joy and sadness as she takes a bite of the buttery fish, and you will be compelled to take up cooking ourselves. And really, nothing compares to that first whiff of “butttteerrr”, does it?

Turkish Delight from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Turkish Delight
Photo Credit: Seb.px via Compfight cc

The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. He was quite warm now, and very comfortable

As parents you learn the benefits of food-as-bribery at an early age- the withholding of treats and the promise of enticing flavours. Look at poor Edmund from the Narnia series- forced into betraying his brothers and sisters all for another taste of magnificent Turkish delights. And who can blame him! Coloured like jewels, and flavoured like warm citrus dreams, even grown ups are known to jump a hoop or two for their resplendent flavours. And I am sure we aren’t the first adult who on tasting a lokum is always transported to the magical land of Narnia.

Curries & Bitter Gourd in The Lunchbox

Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox was one of the best movies of 2013 and our personal favourite for the Oscars. The ensemble cast put in a terrific performance, but it was the delicacies that Ira lovingly dished out every day that had us drooling. We could smell the richness of the paneer kofta, the delicate flavours of the dal and the softness of the rotis – no wonder Saajan Fernandes was captivated! At the end of the movie, all we wanted was a lavish meal at Delhi Durbar – and Ira’s recipe for the stuffed bitter gourd.

Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
“Nobody asked your opinion,” said Alice.”

Is there anyone in the world who hasn’t dreamed about turning into Alice in Wonderland, at least for a day?  And what better way to lose yourself in the world of fantastic nonsense than to join the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse at tea-time. From riddles such as “why is a raven like a writing desk” to arguments about Time and stories about the treacle-well sisters, you can’t ask for a crazier romp than this one. And yet, were it not for this “perpetual tea time”, would Alice have discovered the Red Queen’s madness?

Chicken Khurana in Luv, Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana

Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana Bollywood Movie

Another delightfully underrated movie from Bollywood, and one that evoked a strong sense of nostalgia in us for a homeland we have never really known. Omi’s pursuit of the famous Chicken Khurana recipe that belonged to his deceased Darji (grandfather) mirrors his own search for love and belonging. Almost every character in the movie is delightfully warm, funny and more than a little crazy, which more than compensates for the predictably feel good plot in which Little Punjab wins over Ye Ol’ London. Our favourite character is none other than Harman – played with remarkable aplomb by Huma Qureshi – who looks like the kind of doctor who prescribes dollops of butter and laughter as a cure for most ailments.

Zaffrani Biryani in Cheeni Kum

We’ve always fantasized about marrying a man who can dish out a mean Zaffrani Pulao (not to mention Chingri Macher and Anjal Fry).

 

Ratotouille

How can I describe it? Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it.

There’s nothing more feel-good than watching a young “scavenging” rat become the sous-chef of one of the finest kitchens in Paris, is there? And though we never quite developed a taste for the dish, we can’t get enough of the movie.

 

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Photo Credit: J. Paxon Reyes via Compfight cc

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