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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Illustration by David Swann, Star-Bulletin
June, played by Ming-Na Wen, enjoys her mother's
special dish of steamed crabs in "The Joy Luck
Club." You can eat along with the movie by
planning your own crab meal.

Dinner and
a Movie

Dress up video night with a
meal fitted to the film

By Stephanie Kendrick
Assistant Features Editor


Some movies deserve a more substantial accompaniment than popcorn. Some, like the comedy "Big Night" or 1992's "Fried Green Tomatoes," can inspire intense food cravings. Others use food to forward the plot line, or as a source of humor. If you're craving a rejuvenating evening at home, consider one of the following dinner and a video pairings.

Angel Heart: Hard-boiled eggs

Robert DeNiro plays Louis Cyphre (Lucifer, get it?) in this 1987 detective/horror film directed by Alan Parker. As DeNiro's character explains his habit of collecting souls to detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke), he peels a hard-boiled egg with the long nail of his pinky finger.

Apollo 13 : Well-grilled hot dogs

Their spacecraft disabled, the astronauts wait in their powered-down module, hoping NASA comes up with a way to get them back to Earth. The ship is so cold that when Jim Lovell, played by Tom Hanks, tries to eat a hot dog, it freezes as soon as he removes it from its plastic sheath.

Big Night: Scrambled eggs and Italian bread

In Stanley Tucci's movie, two brothers who run a restaurant put together an elaborate banquet to impress a celebrity. But the celebrity never shows and the two men end the night fighting bitterly, letting loose their frustrations about themselves and each other. The next morning, one brother prepares scrambled eggs, shot with no cuts. When the other brother drifts into the kitchen, the first serves him the simple eggs-and-bread breakfast.

Blade Runner: Fried saimin

Harrison Ford plays Deckard, a burned-out former cop in the Los Angeles of 2020 as director Ridley Scott imagined it. We meet him eating a bowl of noodles in this 1982 drama, set in a downtown that, viewed in 1999, looks like an only slightly futuristic Tokyo. Deckard was paid to hunt replicants, sophisticated androids, and as he gives some background about himself over his meal, he's about to be pressed back into service.

Blazing Saddles: Pork and beans

Video guide books describe this 1974 spoof on westerns by Mel Brooks as containing adult humor. But the politically incorrect comedy has its fair share of juvenile humor as well. Perhaps the best example of that is the scene of unbridled flatulence that ensues as the outlaws consume a dinner of beans around a campfire.

Breakfast at Tiffany's: Pastries and coffee

Playgirl Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) and her neighbor (George Peppard) are two of a kind, but they threaten to break each other's hearts in this 1961 adaptation of Truman Capote's novella. Holly covets an elegant life and often ends her day with a breakfast of pastries and coffee while window-shopping at Manhattan's Tiffany store. Peppard's character has a ring from a Cracker Jack box engraved for her there.

Warner Bros.
The classic "Casablanca" is perfect for a dinner date.
Fix up some chicken kebabs and special cocktails.

Casablanca: Whiskey cocktail and chicken kebabs

A colorful cast of characters surrounds the story of American expatriate Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) in this landmark film, set in World War II Morocco. The action takes place largely in Rick's Café Americain and the 1943 film has inspired at least one cookbook. Abbeville Press Publishers released "The Casablanca Cookbook" in 1992. It boasts a plethora of drink recipes along with finger food and desserts, all with a Moroccan flavor.

Fatal Attraction: Rabbit stew

In this 1987 psychological thriller, Michael Douglas stars as a happily married man who nonetheless has an affair with a woman he meets at an office party (Glenn Close). What is a one-night-stand for him becomes an obsession for her. She stalks him and preys on his family, including depositing the family bunny into a pot of boiling liquid on their stove.

A Fish Called Wanda: Sashimi

A couple of con artists played by Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis are part of a band of jewel thieves. They go to great lengths in an effort not to share the loot with their partners in crime, giving up one member to the police, seducing the barrister in charge of his case, and torturing another member of the band into telling them where the loot is by eating, one by one, the inhabitants of his tank of tropical fish. The 1988 comedy was written by actor John Cleese (who also plays the barrister) and director Charles Crichton.

Five Easy Pieces: Chicken sandwich

Jack Nicholson plays a tormented pianist from a privileged family who rejects his life and takes up work as a roustabout in this 1970 film. In a memorable scene, he orders wheat toast, but the waitress in the fly-blown diner tells him it is not on the menu. She says that he can, however, order a sandwich on toast. So he orders a chicken sandwich on whole wheat toast and instructs her to hold the mayo, hold the lettuce and hold the chicken. Where he tells her to hold the chicken makes the scene.

French Kiss: Cheese fondue

In this 1995 romantic comedy, Meg Ryan plays a school teacher with a deathly fear of flying that results in her passing up a trip to Paris with her fiance. While there, Charlie (Timothy Hutton) falls in love with a French woman, so Kate (Ryan) conquers her fear and gets on a plane intending to rescue their love. Unexpected events lead to her taking a train to the south of France in the company of jewel thief Luc (Kevin Kline). Inspired by the bucolic scenery, she consumes a plateful of French cheese only to be attacked by lactose intolerance.

Fried Green Tomatoes: Fried green tomatoes, barbequed ribs and homemade apple pie

These dishes are served at the Whistle Stop Cafe by best friends Idgie Threadgood (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker). The food looks so down-home and delicious, you wish you could find a cafe with such a menu and ambience.

Joy Luck Club: Steamed crab with ginger

Based on the book by Amy Tan, this 1993 film about four immigrant Chinese mothers and their American daughters is full of wonderful food. It is told in a series of flashbacks that serve to weave the fabric of its characters through the threads of changing times, places and cultures. In one scene, June (Ming-Na Wen), the narrator, is berated by her mother Suyuan (Kieu Chinh) for always taking the smallest crab.

Lady and the Tramp: Spaghetti with 'meat-a-balls'

In Disney's 1955 classic, a mutt named Tramp woos the sheltered pedigree spaniel Lady with a night on the town. For dinner the pair swing by Tony's Restaurant, where Tony and Joe feed and serenade their favorite mongrel and his new amore.

Like Water for Chocolate: Quail with rose petals

In Mexico, hot cocoa is made by bringing water to a boil and spooning in chocolate. A sexually excited person is said to be "like water for chocolate." In this 1993 drama, things are boiling all over the place. Having been denied the love of her life, Tita (Lumi Cavazos) turns to the kitchen, creating feasts brimming with magic and emotion.

Mystic Pizza: Pizza, with really good sauce

Romance, comedy and drama combine in this 1988 film starring, among others, a not-yet-famous Julia Roberts. It's the summer after high school and a trio of girls -- two sisters and their best friend who work in the local pizza parlor -- explore love and ethics on their way to adulthood.

When Harry Met Sally: Turkey sandwich with mayonnaise and mustard on the side

In the most famous scene in this 1989 comedy, Harry and Sally are new acquaintances who have stopped at a diner while sharing a ride from Chicago to New York. Sally orders a turkey sandwich, which she, a very picky eater, proceeds to dismantle. When the conversation turns to fake orgasms, Sally demonstrates her point, that men are easy to fool, to the entertainment of the other diners, one of whom quips to her server, "I'll have what she's having."

Whip up a meal that’s
a match for your movie

Dress up video night at your house by preparing an appropriate meal. These recipes would be suitable for an evening watching "Casablanca," (the cocktail and kebabs), "Like Water for Chocolate" and "The Joy Luck Club."

Rick's Whiskey Cocktail

"The Casablanca Cookbook," by Sarah Key, Jennifer Brazil and Vicki Wells (Abbeville Press, 1992)

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Water to dissolve sugar
2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
1 to 2 drops bitters
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Whole coffee bean

At the bottom of a lowball or old-fashioned glass, add sugar and just enough water to dissolve sugar. Stir and fill with ice. In a separate master glass, add ice, whiskey, bitters and almond extract. Stir and strain into first glass. Garnish with coffee bean and serve. Makes 1 drink.

Nutritional information unavailable.


Chicken Apricot Kebabs

"The Casablanca Cookbook"

2 whole chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
3 small cloves garlic, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Juice of 1 orange (scant 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
8-9 fresh apricots, halved
Bullet Glaze:
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put chicken pieces in medium bowl. Add next 9 ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at least 2 hours or refrigerate overnight. Thread chicken and apricot halves on skewers, alternating 2 chicken pieces with 1 apricot half.

For glaze: combine ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cool.

Grill chicken over charcoal or on gas grill set to low for about 15 minutes. Just before chicken is ready to come off grill, brush with glaze. Remove from grill.

Makes 6 kebobs.

Approximate nutritional information, per kabob: 170 calories, 7 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 390 mg sodium.*


Quail with Rose Petals

"Like Water for Chocolate," by Laura Esquivel (Doubleday, 1994)

2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
2 drop attar of roses
Petals of 12 roses (see note)
2 tablespoons honey
12 thinly sliced chestnuts
6 quail

Brown garlic in butter. Mix with attar, half the rose petals, honey and chestnuts. Rub over each quail. Bake quail for 5 minutes at 450 degrees, reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with second half of rose petals and serve.

Note: Use only roses grown without pesticides.

Approximate nutritional information, per quail: 270 calories, 15 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium.*


Steamed Crabs with Ginger

"The Chinese Way," by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo (Macmillan USA, 1997)

3 quarts cold water
6 live blue crabs (2-1/2 to 3 pounds)
3 tablespoons shredded ginger

Bring water to boil over high heat. Place crabs in water for about 10 seconds. Turn off heat, run cold water into pot, drain. Repeat twice until crabs cool. Discard the aprons, gills, sand sacs, mouths and mandibles.

Separate the body shells from the bodies. Place the body shells on the bottom of a steam-proof dish. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ginger on them. Place the bodies and legs of the crabs atop the shells. Sprinkle remainder of ginger on crabs. Steam for 15 minutes, or until crabs are cooked. Remove from heat and serve.

Approximate nutritional information, per 3 pounds: 170 calories, 2 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 150 mg cholesterol, 560 mg sodium.*

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