Jul 1, 2007

The word of the day is "Synergy"

As some of you might know, I've got a fabulous new job. You may have even heard of my boss? He's about yay-high, super cute and fuzzy? I'll let you smart lil' cookies put two and two together 'bout that one.

Anywho, the catch-phrase that everyone around here is fond of tossing around is "synergy." My handy-dandy Wikipedia definition for synergy is "the phenomenon in which two or more discrete influences or agents acting together create an effect greater than that predicted by knowing only the separate effects of the individual agents." Originally a scientific term, it now encompasses economics, technology, and culture. It can even apply to our favorite topic, food.

In honor of my new job and my bottomless appetite I've journeyed to that wonderous place where the culinary and cinematic arts fuse together and food appears larger than life [and sometimes in 3-D]. Here are my thoughts, musings and tummy rumblings on two of this year's highly anticipated [by me, anyway] food-oriented movies.

Waitress (2007), Kerri Russel: [TBB]

Ratatouille (2007): Dir. Brad Bird.
Everything about this movie is enjoyable. Remy is adorable. The score is jazzy and the art direction is beautiful. The attention to detail is AMAzing. Every little pot, aside from being realistically copper-y, had miniscule wear-and-tear scratches, just as if they were in any actual bustling kitchen in Paris. For me, I got the impression that the filmmakers were really trying to make a throw back to the canon of the Classic Disney Cartoon. It totally didn't feel like a Pixar film. Something in the art direction reminisced of the oldies-but-goodies. One part "Aristocats", a dash of "101 Dalmations", with just a hint of "Rescuers". I found the resemblence particularly noticeable in any of the scenes where a character would smell or taste the food and a sensation symphony was depicted in a very groovalicious way. I'm pretty sure the old 60's films all had similar trippy scenes of sensation overload, where the characters are just transported into another realm.

That's all well and good, but what about the food. Well, I must say, unfortunately, the rats in the kitchen definitely bugged me more than I thought they would. [Total non-sequitor: remember that spelling mnemonic "A Rat In The House Might Eat The Ice Cream"?] In the past month, I had determinedly held on to the notion that this was a Disney rat and, therefore, it was perfectly acceptable for his paws to be in the pastry dough. I must admit, I did cringe when Remy and his pals took charge of the culinary affairs, but I got over it. For the casual foodie, the film was a wonderful introduction to the structure and flow of a kitchen. I wasn't too fond of being hit on the head by the film's mantra, "Anyone can cook." Remy's obvious talent in the kitchen is enough to inspire beginning chefs. Even my sister, who, let's face it, is not the cook of the family, emerged from the theatre all gung-ho to put on an apron. That didn't last too long, however, when she insisted we stop at the Taco Bell drive-thru on the way home.

One slight note of criticism: Was it just me, or did those faux-French accents become slightly un-intelligible? And if the bumbling chef's name was Linguini, why didn't he speak with an Italian accent? Minor hiccups, but I thought I'd point them out.

On a completely unrelated note, never go to the Grove on a Sunday afternoon. Not because of the lack of parking, abundance of strollers and tourists, but because of the proliferation of the High School A-List Scene. I can only describe it as a page from Zoey Dean's teen fiction series The A-List. Every girl there was a size 0, uber-blonde, face skillfully painted and decked out in only the best couture. Excuse me, did I not get the memo? Is it noticeable that my Lucky Jeans are Ross rejects and my Rainbows are outlet bargains? Am I supposed to put on make-up everytime I leave the house? Clearly. The boys were not as bad, but definitely were thematically dressed up for this mass date. Just a word to the wise.

***In case your eyes are hungry for seconds, here are a few more films I may or may not have slept through during my career as a film student:

What's Cooking? (2000): Dir. Gurinder Chadha. Pre-Bend it Like Beckham, Chadha explores the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving through the eyes and mouths of four non-traditional families. Chances are, at least one of the families will remind you of yours. =)

Chocolat (2000): Dir. Lasse Hallstrom. Johnny Depp covered in chocolate. 'Nuff said.

Moonstruck (1987): Dir. Norman Jewison. Nic Cage's first lead role emphasizes the importance of kitchen safety and Cher's acting chops never cease to amaze me. I highly recommend making the "egg toast" that Cher's momma cooks up. Just cut a hole out of a piece of bread and fry the egg in the middle of it. Flip the toast once the egg is mostly set.

Heartburn (1986): Dir. Nora Ephron. Meryl Streep is the original domestic goddess and Jack Nicholson is an ass (surprise?). If I recall correctly, Streep makes a romantic "spaghetti a la carbonara" in bed for the two of them. While it looks like an intricate pasta dish, it's really quite simple. I've thoroughly enjoyed Nigella Lawson's version. However, do your sheets a favor and devour the spaghetti straight from the pan on the stove.

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983): Dir. Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones. One of the last sketches in this film serves as a warning to all foodies. Watch for it, you'll understand. Just a waifer thin piece...

Lady and the Tramp (1955): Dir. Clyde Geronimi, Wildred Jackson, Hamilton Luske. Any man who nudges the last meatball at me while dining al fresco is a keeper.