Best Picture Dinners: The Tree of Life

5 years ago

I'm going to admit it right up front: Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is not my favorite, by far, of the nine Oscar Best Picture nominees. It's a complicated, often allegorical film, at times beautiful and poetic, at times, to my eyes, utterly weird. The movie examines the inner life of a family in Waco, Texas, and the bonds between them, whether those bonds are spiritual, tenuous, tender, or all three at the same time.


Though it is a movie that pays splendid homage to childhood, there are not many around-the-dinner-table scenes. The one that does appear, however, is the one that will drive the menu I developed to go with this film. It is the fourth menu in our Best Picture Dinners series.

The dinner itself is incredibly simple, so I'm going to dress it up with an appetizer, cocktail, and dessert. To start the meal, some deviled eggs are perfect. They're the kind of snack a suburban wife and mother, like the one depicted in the movie, could have ready to go when her boys come inside after playing until sunset on a summer day. This Superstuffed Deviled Eggs recipe by Cassandra of Chow Baby has good tips on everything from boiling the eggs properly to filling them in a delicious manner.

Because it's Texas, my thoughts immediately turn to the margarita, but that's not exactly right for this meal and this part of the state. Instead, I'm going to suggest Cocktail Confessions' Texas-tini, a gin-fueled drink that bears a girly name, but socks a punch of jalapeño that takes it out of the realm of the more classic martini.

Now that we have a drink under our belt, let's sit down to dinner.

The main course in this Midwestern family dinner is going to be meatloaf. I like the sound of the recipe posted by Debby of A Feast for the Eyes, but if you're looking for a vegan option, The Type A Housewife has that recipe ready for you, as well.

Along with the meatloaf, we'll serve mashed potatoes and creamed spinach, two classic Middle American dishes that evoke a mid-20th Century middle American family. Jenny and Teri of Spoon Fork Bacon have a Heavenly Mashed Potatoes recipe that looks like a crowd-pleaser: It has plenty of butter and other creamy ingredients to please the palate. Though it's probably a little fancier of a recipe than would show up on the ordinary weeknight dinner table, the Creamed Spinach Gratin from Amanda of What We're Eating looks so good that I bet even the pickiest kid would at least take a bite. It's cheesy, creamy and comforting, start to finish.

For dessert, we'll have homemade ice cream sandwiches. Though I admit being partial to the processed kind, the dark chocolate cookies that serve as the "bread" for these ice cream sandwiches from The Kitchy Kitchen look thin enough to keep me happy. Plus, then the sandwiches themselves can be customized to the taste of each member of your family.

What foods did The Tree of Life evoke for you? Share your movie-inspired thoughts in the comments below.

Genie blogs about gardening and food at The Inadvertent Gardener, and tells very short tales at 100 Proof Stories. She is also the Food Section Editor for BlogHer.

Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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