Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Eat, drink movies

With Thanksgiving looming on the horizon,  my head has been filled with visions of food...and film.

When the weather turned cooler a couple of weeks ago and Now, Voyager happened to be scheduled on TCM, I started thinking about my favorite recipe for gingerbread...and how a steaming cup of hot cocoa would go so well with a thick slice of gingerbread and that magnificent Bette Davis melodrama.

Last weekend, M.F.K. Fisher’s  “strengthening prescription” from her book, Alphabet for Gourmets, found its way into my thoughts. Fisher, considered the doyenne of American culinary writers during her lifetime, was also a screenwriter for Paramount Pictures in 1942, and this seemed to me to add to the rightness of pairing her simple menu (from the chapter "M is for Monastic") with a movie.

Her "Monastic Supper" was designed with the person alone in mind. I began to think of films one might watch alone and, even better, movies about loners.  Of course, film noir fills that bill. Something like Jules Dassin’s Night and the City (1950), with Richard Widmark scheming his way from small-time to big-time hood…or Robert Siodmak’s The Killers (1946), with Burt Lancaster as the anguished victim of Ava Gardner’s dazzling charms…

And yet, considering the actual fare (adapted  by me) -

One small loaf of crusty sourdough or French bread
One chunk of Gorgonzola or Bleu Cheese
One bottle of Chianti or (my suggestion) Zinfandel or its alter-ego, Primitivo

-  I couldn’t help but think of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám and that famous phrase, “a jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and thou.”  Clearly M.FK. Fisher’s “Monastic Supper” could also be applied to on and off-screen togetherness.

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread (with cheese) and thou would work well with...Michael Curtiz's Casablanca (1942), that most beloved of all WWII romances starring memorably paired Bogart and Bergman…or Jean Cocteau’s unforgettably poetic, La belle et la bête (1946), “one of the screen’s great erotic tales” (Movieline Magazine) – no subtitles necessary!

I could go on, but will save more for another day...meanwhile, I'm open to suggestions.



  2. Hmmmmmm, interesting mix of of interesting films, Doctor...reminds me a bit of the first blog I posted long ago at CFU as "What's for Dinner?" A little later I posted a revised version at the Classic Film & TV Cafe as "Delicious!" - lighthearted look at some films with food "in a lead or supporting role."

    CFU post -

    Cafe version -

  3. Eve, this is a really fun idea for a blog since sharing a meal figures into many of our favorite films. You mentioned “Christmas in Connecticut” in your café version, one of my favorites for Cuddles recipes and the snow-bound farm. Monty Woolley may be the only one to enjoy a lavish meal when he came to dinner, but there are those roasted sweet potatoes when Bette Davis tries ice skating. Nick and Nora Charles had great adventures with food, from late night fridge raids to the lavish dinner party when Nick reveals the killer (and I always wondered what sort of cocktail Powell served the Bullock’s as Godfrey). Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea share coffee and donuts while they are on the road, but it is the “Dagwood” style sandwiches shared by Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in “Remember the Night” that have always fascinated me. A few filmmakers have taken milk and made it a sinister medium as in “Bigger than Life” with James Mason and Suspicion with Cary Grant. Last but certainly not least, your impressive reference to Mary Francis (Kennedy Fisher) reminded me of a more recent film. The film “A Good Year” (2007) was based on a book by Peter Mayle of the same title. His books, both of fiction and non-fiction, celebrate good food and good friends.

  4. Gypsy...I have been a fan of M.F.K. Fisher for years and was delighted when I had the chance to make reference to her in this blog. By the way, I tried to track down the films she worked on while at Paramount, but all I found out was that she only worked in collaboration with other writers on the lot and that the films she was assigned to were never produced. By the way, enjoyed your snippets on food (and drink) in various films...and I may yet write about CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT this year, it's one of my favorite holiday films.

  5. Eve, this is a delightful article about a fun subject. I loved your suggested food links to movies. Your meal of bread, cheese and wine would fit perfectly with Zorba the Greek, although he would add olives. It also occurred to me that barbeque and mint juleps would be the thing to eat watching Gone With the Wind. And, although more recent, I can't help but think about The Age of Innocence, with the beautiful scenes of lush dinner parties, flowers along the long table, silver settings gleaming and placed perfectly, footmen behind each chair, and literally everything from soup to nuts served on the best china. Now I'm hungry!

  6. Great suggestions, Becky. The subject has endless possibilities.

  7. Yes of course great suggestion.The subject has a vast scope & different .Loved it