The Academy Awards are coming up on Sunday. Whether you're planning a blowout Oscar-watching party or just kicking it with a few friends, here are some menus that are inspired by the nominees for Best Picture.
Image: miss karen via Flickr
Sit back, have a drink, eat a tasty meal, and queue up Twitter (#oscarsnark seems appropriate). Snarking on the fashions, booing or applauding the winners, or just counting the times the camera goes back and forth among Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie is so much more fun with friends.
Zero Dark Thirty
This movie starts with the anguished calls from people trapped inside the World Trade Center and ends with a gripping scene--shot in virtual real time--of the raid on Bin Laden's compound. Spoiler: Bin Laden dies. I wouldn't recommend this as a first-date movie unless both of you happen to be seasoned CIA operatives.
Zero Dark Thirty is full of dark, depraved moments of suspense and tension. It's very Hitchcockian in that even the "normal" scenes can make you wary and tense. If you saw the movie, you were probably gripping your seat with a racing pulse the whole time. You're going to want something to balance that. I suggest a spread of food coma-inducing comfort food.
Image: Black Bottom Banana Cream Bars courtesy of Mouth from the South
White Russian Milkshake or Hot and Creamy Cocoa
Artichoke Dip Served With Bread or Tortilla Chips
Macaroni and Cheese or Chicken Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits
Black Bottom Banana Cream Bars
Silver Linings Playbook
I love romantic movies that are strange and almost absurd. And while I haven't yet seen this movie, any movie that can combine rabid and OCD Philadelphia Eagles fans, running in garbage bags, Hemingway, ballroom dancing, a compassionate yet somewhat realistic view of mental illness, and a love connection between two broken people is a movie I want to see. Plus, when you have Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro in a movie, you're going to be entertained.
The Eagles football team show up a lot more often in this movie than they did in the "Win" column in 2012, and Bradley Cooper's mom is constantly making "crabby snacks and homemades" for them to eat during the games. This menu wouldn't be complete without some foods from Philly. I'm including recipes for Philly Cheesesteaks and Butterkuchen. People of Philadelphia, please don't ask for my head on a stick if they're not the "right" version. And I am not even going to touch the Pat’s vs. Geno’s debate.
For the cocktail, it has to be a Hemingway Daiquiri. And whatever you do, do not play Stevie Wonder's 'My Cherie Amour' while making or eating this meal.
Image: Hot Crab Dip courtesy of Chez Us
Spoiler alert: Lincoln dies.
A menu for the movie Lincoln presents some challenges. I thought about featuring foods popular in Illinois, but President Lincoln seems much too noble to be noshing on a Chicago-style hot dog, and he was certainly too busy to sit down for a four-hour meal at Alinea. I also considered pitting a Yankee-themed dinner against a Southern-themed feast. This seemed like a marvelous way to pretend to be all-inclusive while simultaneously offending everyone.
One of the things that I found interesting in doing research on President Lincoln was that there is a little bit of controversy about his diet. Some people say he was very indifferent to food. Others say that he enjoyed good food, but was so preoccupied with the weighty matters of the day that he never complained about the food he was served.
Some facts that aren't in dispute are that President Lincoln loved honey, nuts, and apples. He loved chicken fricassee with biscuits so much that his wife once hired a cook because that was the lady's specialty. Abe was also a teetotaler, but I honestly can't imagine this dinner without a cocktail of some kind. It's a wonderful menu to eat while watching Lincoln or before attending a play.
Image: Apple Pie #1 courtesy of Merry Gourmet
This menu is so easy that it writes itself: crust of dry bread.
Seriously, people. I know you're expecting something more appetizing, but I'm trying to be as authentic as possible. Thousands of people in France during this time period were starving. Jean Valjean was sent to prison for 24 years for stealing bread and trying to escape his hellish imprisonment. And Fantine sells her hair and prostitutes herself in order to feed her daughter. You can't get much grimmer than that. Don't deny me this opportunity.
OK, OK, for those of you too scared to be hard-core, I'll give you an out. Since this movie is about the Paris Uprising of 1832 , I'll capitulate and give you a menu of dishes commonly thought of as French peasant food.
Image: Simpler Cassoulet courtesy of Three Many Cooks
Cheap but tasty red wine
Crusty Baguette with Chicken Liver Pâté
Coq au Vin in White Wine
One-Day Cassoulet or Simpler Cassoulet
Dessert? Nope - you don't have time. You've got a storming of the Bastille you need to prepare for and a musical number to perform while standing on chairs.
Life of Pi
I considered suggesting hash brownies with LSD frosting, but I'm fairly sure BlogHer won't let me condone the use of drugs, even in baking. So I called a specialty butcher. Apparently it is illegal to sell zebra meat in the U.S., but you could buy horse meat and pretend. If you live in the U.K., there are several butchers that will sell you zebra steaks. I also learned that certain parts of hyenas can be consumed to "ensure love and fertility." I wish I could back in time to the period where I did not know that.
My next thought was to create a menu full of Indian delicacies. This seemed like a great idea since I love Indian cuisine, and it ties perfectly into the beginning of the movie. However my drapes still reek of chicken tikka masala from my 2009 Slumdog Millionaire-themed Oscar party, so I passed on that one too.
I have a confession to make. I have an addiction. I struggle at great length to fight my compulsive need for it. It woos me and controls me to such a degree that at times I pretend I'm biased against it in an effort to prove that we're not having an intimate relationship. But most of my friends and family would be concerned about my mental health if I didn't go with the obvious. Get ready for an all-pie menu, baby!
Image: Buttermilk Chess Pie courtesy of Mouth From the South
I have not seen this movie. I am probably not going to see this movie, even though it won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and is a Best Picture Nominee for the Oscars. From what I've read, it's a beautiful story of love and loss. Publicly, I will tell people that I won't see it because it reminds me that five years of French classes were for naught. But the real reason is: the trailer made my cry. When a trailer for a movie makes you cry, you better bring a box of Kleenex and leave off the mascara.
Nothing celebrates the indignities of aging, love that's been held and tested for years and then stolen from you, and the rotting corpse of the one you love like a romantic French dinner. I also tried to make sure that these dishes provided appropriate level of sodium to replace the amount that will leave your body when you cry for a solid two hours.
Image: Duck with Blackberry Sauce courtesy of Savour Fare
French Baguette (GF), good butter, radishes and sea salt
Jarlsberg Cheese Soufflé or Duck with Blackberry Sauce or Pan-Grilled Steak with Béarnaise Sauce
Pots de Creme or Profiteroles With Chocolate Sauce
I knew going into it that a movie directed by Quentin Tarantino was going to be difficult to plan a menu around. It's a given that a lot of people are going to die, but it's quite a challenge to come up with a menu that revolves around blood and murder without choosing dishes like blood pudding.
What kind of menu do you serve where slaves are treated horribly and killed in disgustingly torturous fashions simply because their owners whimsically decide they want them dead? It seems insulting and in my view, bigoted, to plan a menu based around the meals a plantation owner in Mississippi might choose to eat. But I'm going to do it anyway. Without giving away a real spoiler, I think the idea of a flaming dessert redeems the menu in a glorious fashion.
Image: Mint Julep courtesy of A Sweet Spoonful
In years past, the only appropriate food for a Ben Affleck flick were Golden Raspberries. With this movie, Canadian, Iranian or traditional American foods wouldn't be out of place at all.
I also could have gone with food popular during the late seventies. My mom used to make a delicious version of rumaki, or bacon-wrapped water chestnuts. I was usually banished from the kitchen when she made these, because I once ate half of a pan all by myself. But then I also remember that the era was known for Hamburger Helper, Rice-A-Roni and that horrible atrocity known as alfalfa sprouts.
Since Argo is essentially a movie about a movie, why not serve traditional movie food? No, I'm not going to give you recipes for fake butter flavoring for your popcorn or explain how to get your nacho cheese sauce the perfect shade of bright orange. We're going to gussy it up a bit.
I'm so looking forward to seeing Ben back on the red carpet with his wife, Matt Damon. I wonder what designer Matt will pick?
Image: Rolo Cookies courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod
Rum and Coke, preferably in a 32-ounce refillable paper cup (because I can't be the only one that's snuck rum into a movie theatre before)
Beasts of the Southern Wild
When the main character is named Hushpuppy, the menu becomes obvious. Quvenzhané Wallis, who plays the role of Hushpuppy, is such a force of nature that it would be insult not to include hushpuppies, which I like to refer to as savory cake doughnuts.
There are various things you could serve with the hushpuppies that are related to this movie. Fish is one of them, but that seems like the obvious choice. Alligator is another possibility, but the idea of that takes me out of the southern bayou and back to Knoxville on a University of Florida versus University of Tennessee game day. Suck it, Gators!
Besides, what better food to celebrate the movie than crabs? If you're really cool you'll eat them "beast" style. However, I'd suggest not getting up on the table, screaming, and flexing your muscles unless you're dining at home. Why have pecan pie as the dessert? Because it's Southern and delicious.
Kristina blogs about biscuits, bacon, bourbon and her other true loves at MouthFromTheSouth.com.
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