Peculiar Pelicular

Last Saturday 19 February I hosted a film and food festival in my house. If I was hip, organised and well connected it would have been just like one of those pop up underground restaurants. Well, in fact it was exactly like that, except I didn’t profit from the event, not monetarily anyway. I invited a few friends ’round and they also contributed to the food and drink.

Almodóvar was decided upon, as I’m a big fan of his films and food plays an important role in his work. And of course, it provided a great excuse to eat Spanish food.

Not very Spanish I know, but we started off with crisps and dip and then a glass of Rioja or a refreshing San Miguel before settling down to watch ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” Thankfully I had prepped and cooked all the food beforehand, so I was not in danger of being one of the women ‘on the verge’ as the title suggests.

Women on the Verge...

The film is a colourful riot of histrionics and drama and when it was done we discussed it’s merits  and debated whether or not it could be construed as a feminist work over a cup of Gazpacho (not laced with barbiturates I might add) and bread with three different types of Chorizo that someone had brought along.

Chorizo x 3

We also made what could only loosely be described as ‘Sangria’, although played no part in its production and therefore I hold no responsibility as to its authenticity. I did however, observe the addition of both red and white wine, as well as most of the contents of a bottle of cherry brandy into the mix. No matter, it tasted so moreish, and during our viewing of the next film ‘Tie me up, Tie me down‘ the punch bowl slowly drained away into our cups and down our gullets.

If it smells good, chuck it in.

By the time we had witnessed Antonio Banderas kidnapping, and then successfully wooing his true love (an ex-porn star and b-movie actress) with nothing more than illicit painkillers, breathable gaffer tape and an piece of rope we were high on cherry brandy and had worked up quite an appetite.

Time for more food then! We enjoyed a delicious feast of Tortilla (the potato variety), Pistos (tomato and courgette stew), Chickpea salad with cumin and saffron dressing, and Pan con Tamate with some Serrano Jamon brought straight from Spain the week before. Thus refreshed we settled once again for the final film. (Apologies for lack of food photos – it only occurred to me to blog about this after the fact, so I took pics of the leftovers – doh!).

Chickpeas with saffron, oregano and cumin dressing

Seeing three films next to each other highlighted how different Volver (2006) is from the earlier films (1988 and 1990). Although his distinctive visual style is immediately recognisable and common themes endure, the characters in Volver  seem far less caricatured and are more believable. It is a truly great film, and it’s wonderful to see ‘Almodóvar’s girls’ popping up in all three films. Carmen Maura who plays the neurotic Pepa in ‘Women on the Verge…’ appears as a ghostly matriarch in ‘Volver’ almost 20 years later.

Almond cake soaked in Orange syrup

After watching three rather full-on films we were full of questions, full of opinions and full of food. The discussion about Almodóvar’s directing techniques, visual style, storytelling and the debate over ‘is he or isn’t he a feminist’ continued late into the night, our spirits energised by two types of Almond cake – one light as air with chinks of crunchy almond embedded in it and the other doused in Seville orange syrup.

All in all a great success and definitely to be repeated. Next up? How about how about Wong Kar Wai‘s ‘In the Mood for Love’ and ‘Chunking Express’.  Given my foray this year into the world of Charcuterie, perhaps I could serve my own Salami alongside a showing of ‘Delicatessen‘. Or maybe you have a penchant for Sushi – thanks to the interweb, you’re covered –  find inspiration for your Japanese Animé film-food menu  here.

The possibilities are truly infinite. I can’t wait for the next one.


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