“A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens–second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day’s events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths.”
– Reynolds Price
I love movies that offer that irresistible moment when food takes center-stage as a storytelling device. Food often conjures up elusive aspects of a character, elements that might not be apparent otherwise. A good example is from my all-time favorite movie, The Godfather. After Paulie betrays Vito Corleone (Brando), Clemenza and Rocco take care of Paulie with 2 shots to the head while he sits in the driver’s seat of the car. As they prepare to walk away, Clemenza instructs Rocco to “leave the gun, take the cannolis.” In another scene Clemenza shows Michael (Al Pacino) how to make sauce to feed 20 men. As he stands at the stove putting together the sauce it’s obvious that Clemenza enjoys the nurturing aspect of cooking.
In the beginning of Little Miss Sunshine the Hoover family is defined by a dinner conversation that begins with Grandpa Edwin Hoover’s (Alan Arkin) rant when Sheryl Hoover (Toni Colette) brings fast food chicken home for her family’s dinner:
“Every night it’s the fucking chicken! Holy God Almighty! Is it possible just once we could get something to eat for dinner around here that’s not the goddamned fucking chicken? “
Sometimes, a movie will give you a fabulous recipe. Once Upon A Time In Mexico was a confusing movie for me, but I loved Agent Sands’ (Johnny Depp) obsession with the slow roasted pork called Puerco Pibil. It’s a simple Yucatan dish that uses annatto seed to make an achiote paste. This flavorful, porky delight has a distinct spicy-citrusy flavor. Its piquant aroma will drive you absolutely crazy (yee-haw, woo-hoo, woot…crazy!) while it cooks.
If you’d like to check out director Robert Rodriguez’s 10 minute cooking school video go to this post at What geeks eat… This dish is still a family favorite and even though I posted about it a year ago I only had a handful of readers then…it’s too good to let it languish in oblivion.
Adapted from Robert Rodriguez’s 10 Minute Cooking School video
Click here for a printer friendly recipe.
5 tbsp annatto seed
2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 jalapeno peppers
2 tbsp. salt
8 cloves garlic
juice of 5 Lemons
5 lbs. pork shoulder roast
Grind all the spices. Add everything except the pork to a blender jar and pulse until it is well mixed. Cut the pork into large chunks. Put the pork and the marinade into a ziploc bag and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Dump the pork and the marinade into a dutch oven and cover it with a lid. Bake in the oven for 3 hours. Serve with rice.
Other notable and amusing film food moments are:
- The steak scene in Raging Bull
- The wiseguy’s prison scene in Goodfellas
- The lobster scene in Annie Hall
- All of Home For The Holidays (the best thanksgiving film, ever)
- The song A Little Priest in Sweeney Todd
- The Seven Samurai for it’s focus on rice (thanks to my son Alex for this one)
- The sticky bun dance in Shaolin Soccer (thanks to my son Dexter for this one)
What’s your favorite food moment in film?