Part I: “To Cook a Movie”
I originally wrote this as a submission for a guest post contest, which did not materialize on the other end – so I decided to simply make it a series here. I usually do not follow the Oscars much, but this year the possibility of two favorite actresses of mine – Glenn Close and Viola Davis – winning an award has me excited.
NOTE: I will interlink the posts as the other parts become active so you can simply hop from post to post to see the rest of the series.
The British aren’t exactly known for good cooking. A great sense of dark humor maybe, awesome beer – but not food. In fact, there are so many jokes out there about English food that I could go on for pages… Did you know they kill their lamb twice, once in earnest and then with peppermint sauce? You get the point. So, don’t ask me why, but the first movie that came to mind when I started thinking about a favorite one that could be “cooked” was “Calendar Girls”, starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, among others.
Well, who could pass up a movie where the cast list reads like a “who-is-who” of British film (Helen Mirren’s AKA Chris’s husband is played by Ciaran Hinds), and one that features such lines as “This isn’t bakery – it’s ZULU!” or “Might I just say, I never knew broccoli could be so intriguing.”? I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, the movie is about a real-life group of Yorkshire women who all belong to the same local chapter of the Women’s Institutes. They decide to produce a calendar in which they are all featured posing nude (“It’s not naked, it’s NUDE!”) while engaging in “everyday” activities such as baking or knitting. One of them, Annie (Julie Walters), has lost her husband to leukemia, and the calendar’s sales are intended to go to charity, supporting the local hospital. It becomes such a huge success that it makes them instant celebrities.
Their husbands mostly take it in stride – there is a scene where one of them matter-of-factly says to his wife, “You’re nude in The Telegraph, dear. Can you pass the bacon?” Yet, the whole new-found celebrity (“I thought I’d bring my journalists to meet your journalists.”) also takes a toll on the friendship between Annie and Chris, which they have to work through as well.
While the movie is great entertainment, in real life the “Calendar Girls” have raised enough money to buy a totally new leukemia unit for the local hospital AND the sofa they initially set out to purchase. And they are still at it to-date, 13 years after their initial calendar. Their official website can be viewed here.
I have configured this as an appetizer table for a whole English-inspired viewing party:
- Bangers & Mash Appetizers
- Sausage Roll Bites
- “Sunflower” Deviled Eggs
Yes, it is a (short) departure from German food, but every once in a while I will take the opportunity to digress. Besides, Nigella Lawson would be so proud of me…
The dishes in this series are all inspired by “Calendar Girls” itself (it was filmed in Great Britain), and by the sunflowers which John, Annie’s late husband, so adored and was going to talk about at a WI meeting. They are featured throughout the movie and calendar, and so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put them on a plate (as deviled eggs). All recipes are my originals, but were inspired by sources I found throughout the Internet. One place you can always get good food in England is the local pub, and consequently that’s what you’ll eat at my party: English “pub grub”-style finger food. Feel free to wash it down with a sip of English ale!
To balance out all of the starch, meat etc. in the other finger foods, I’m pairing them with carrot and celery sticks (there is a scene where Annie is seen dieting in preparation for the photo shoot and biting into a celery stick with disdain). I am also including just “everyday” English cheese and crackers, because the one thing those Brits have always gotten right is their cheese.
Upcoming posts in this series:
2/22/2012 – Bangers & Mash Appetizers
2/24/2012 – Sausage Roll Bites
2/27/2012 – “Sunflower” Deviled Eggs
Do you have a favorite movie that could be “cooked/baked”? Which one, and what dishes would it inspire for you?