I Have Become a Movie Character

I have become a movie character, or at least an amalgam of characters. If you are a cinephile, you can thank me later for all the movie references.

And WHAT a Character!

One day while breezing into my local bar, whipping off my sunglasses and surveying the room looking for my peeps, I was compared to Miranda Priestly – the character based on Anna Wintour. And I wasn’t offended. Calm, collected, and confident on the outside, using bitchiness to camouflage the raging mess on the inside. The tables have turned. I have now become Myrna Loy. Not the fun, cool Nora Charles version everyone wants to be friends with from the “Thin Man” films.

Myrna Loy & William Powell from the Thin Man

But the slightly neurotic, persnickety Muriel Blanding…and my husband is becoming the Cary Grant character from that film. Someone compared us to Shelly Long and Tom Hanks in The Money Pit, but let’s face it, Grant and Loy did it first and did it better.

Why Can’t ANYTHING be Simple?

Each time we tackle a project in the house, it leads to 3 others that must be completed before we can move on and do the initial project. And each complication adds a week or more to our timeline. Here’s an example – My original goal was to have the kitchen complete by 1 October. When I had the original measurements for the cabinets done, that was a realistic goal. Here’s the hold up: an ugly drop ceiling had to be removed and the actual measurements needed to include the additional 14 inches I was gaining. Once the hideous soffit was removed, we found out WHY there was a drop ceiling. To accommodate the plumbing for the master bath. A call to the plumber to raise the pipes to allow the raise of the ceiling and we have a one-week delay.…

We Are on Our Way

The measurements have been done and the cabinets and pulls have been ordered and now there is an 8 week wait…with all the delays and supply chain difficulties that are acting like gum in the gears, it is now looking more like 15 November. And that doesn’t include the gas line and stove…but that is another whole story in and of itself.

Have I mentioned that I am NOT patient? I am almost Veruca Salt (original Willy Wonka) level impatient without the brattiness. Well, most of the time I am not bratty. When I finally decide on something, I want it NOW. Not 3 weeks from now, but today; tomorrow at the latest.

Why am I telling you this?  Because at the end of it all, becoming a movie character has built some character. I am learning to be more flexible (not my strong suit). I am learning to go with the flow more. Side note: On vacation I am usually really flexible and willing to just roll with whatever looks like fun, but in day-to-day life? Not so much.

And through all of this, I am cooking. While it might sound fun to dine out every night, when you actually ENJOY cooking and your kitchen is your happy place, it’s really not. As I type, my mom is visiting, and I am cooking for her. I am trying out new recipes, shopping in the local ethnic markets and learning new things. Joyfully cooking in my hot mess of a kitchen with holes in the walls, bare board flooring and no cabinets. And a god-awful electric stove. “It builds character”, I keep telling myself. At this point I think it is more fun to BE a character.

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Food Movies for the Summer

My dear friend Nanette is a movie lover. Don’t call her during the awards shows; she’s busy with her tally seeing if she agreed with the voting academy. When we watch movies together, other than the plot lines and characters, we notice very different things. She always hears the soundtrack and I almost never even notice it. What I DO notice are the costumes, make-up and set design. Especially in movies that have anything culinary as a theme.

Sometimes the food plays a role like an actor would, advancing the plot through its presence on the screen. Sometimes it’s an actor playing a chef that is the focal point. In some cases it is both. Of course there are scenes surrounding food which are engraved in everyone’s mind – the rotting wedding cake of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, the deli scene from When Harry Met Sally, Andy Garcia making gnocchi in Godfather III*, the food fights in Animal House and Blazing Saddles and so many others. But these movies are MORE than that to me for LOTS of reasons.

With that in mind, here is a list of food-centric films to get you through the hot weather. Available on Netflix in streaming format unless otherwise noted. This is just a jumping off point – there is SO much more out there including Netflix original series Chef’s Table and Anthony Bourdain’s The Mind of a Chef. Pop that popcorn and settle into the A/C and cool off.

Chef – Jon Favreau’s pet project is wonderful. And I LOVED this soundtrack so much I bought it. What I loved most is a chef finds his love of food again as he finds his love of life. The scenes in New Orleans are so reminiscent of taking my son there for the first time.

The Big Night – Stanley Tucci AND Tony Shaloub? YES! I find both of these gents to be hilarious and the movie is just as good. Two brothers argue about everything when it comes to their restaurant, their food and the critic coming to eat.

Murder by Death (DVD only) – Everyone and their brother is in this flick – Peter Falk, James Coco, Peter Sellers, Nancy Walker, and Dame Maggie Smith to name a few. While the food isn’t CENTRAL, scenes at the dining table are laugh out loud funny in this spoof of Agatha Christie stories.

The Hundred Foot Journey (DVD only) – What is NOT to love about this film? Dame Helen Mirren as an uptight, snobbish pain in the ass does everything in her power to quell the culinary dreams of an immigrant Indian chef until she realizes HE HAS IT. The book was stunning and film is a pretty decent adaptation.

Chocolat – Juliette Binoche brings magic to a sexually, emotionally and spiritually repressed town in the form of sweets at the beginning of Lent. Johnny Depp’s gypsy is romantic and fun and Dame Judy Dench’s cantankerous old broad is fabulous. Watching battered wife Lena Olin learn to temper chocolate is beautiful.

Fried Green Tomatoes (DVD only) – The book is terrific and the film is just as good. Intertwined timelines around a southern diner with a strong female driven cast make this a must watch for the food. I especially love the food fight and BBQ scenes.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi – this one is in my queue. I haven’t had the time to properly devote myself to this documentary project yet. 85 year old sushi chef Jiro profiled in the best way possible. (I know, how can I call myself a true foodie if I haven’t seen it yet…30 lashes with a wet noodle).

*did you ever notice in The Godfather Part I that whenever there are oranges in a scene someone dies or at the very least gets shot? Not that every time someone gets shot there are oranges (hello, Sonny?) but every time there are oranges, something is going down.