We're moving to the Deep South in today's edition of our Best Picture Dinners series. Next on my list is The Help, an inspiring movie about the power of storytelling used against oppression.
The Help is set in Jackson, Miss. at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. It focuses on the relationship between black maids and the families they work for. Food plays a poignant and sometimes humorous role in the movie, and this menu is inspired by some of the scenes where eating, and eating well, was so critical.
Jackson is not the closest Mississippi city to the Gulf of Mexico, but it's still close enough to get the benefits of the regional seafood industry. In one scene of the movie, Skeeter, who is one of the main characters, is on a date at a restaurant in town, and she and the guy she's getting to know are slurping down oysters on the half-shell with Club crackers and ketchup. I prefer my oysters unadulterated, but no matter how you dress them up, that's where this meal will begin. If you don't know how to shuck them, we've got a great tutorial just waiting for you.
We'll definitely need a cocktail (though I'd argue the best thing to drink with oysters is a sparkling wine or champagne), but I know an awful lot of Southerners who would not consider a meal complete without a glass of sweet tea. Alana Winder of Mrs. Alana's Miscellany has all the instructions you need to make that particular potion.
If it's booze you're seeking, though, to round out your meal, I recommend a very classic bourbon and ginger. Make your own ginger syrup (and, subsequently, ginger ale), thanks to Joy of Joy The Baker, and then mix your homemade ginger ale with bourbon in an ice-filled highball to the strength of your liking.
We have to serve a fried chicken dinner to go with this movie, and one of the best fried chicken recipes I've ever had comes from MIchael Procopio of Food for the Thoughtless. His Mrs. Webb's Fried Chicken is the perfect combination of crispy and moist. Oscar season and tomato season don't coincide, but sliced fresh tomatoes with salt would be a great side item, along with cornbread and these collard greens from Jaden of Steamy Kitchen.
For dessert, well, we could serve chocolate pie (and if you've seen the movie, you're probably both chuckling and gagging a little at that reference...), but instead, we'll have Chef Dennis' Pineapple Upside Down Cake, a dessert both appropriate to the era and location, and also mentioned in the movie.
What foods did The Help evoke for you? Share your movie-inspired thoughts in the comments below.
Image Credit: Dreamworks
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