Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Looking at the Pretty

I'm taking a little break from Top Chef mainly because I've picked this most recent episode to death. Instead I decided to reveal one of my short comings. I've never seen Babette's Feast. Feel free to begin the barrage of baguettes. I've seen the other great foodie movies, Like Water for Chocolate, Tampopo, Chocolat, and The Big Night but for some reason I never got around to watching Babette's Feast. However I corrected that this weekend only to realize what an idiot I had been. The film is based on a story by the Danish writer Isak Dinesen of two pious sisters living in a tiny village on the shores of Jutland. Their father was a pastor and founder of a tiny Christian sect. Despite suitors for the daughters and the discovery of one daughter's artistry as a great operatic soprano, both sisters choose to serve their father and his ministry. Many years later, the sisters, now much older, tend to the dedicated few that remain of their tiny congregation. A woman appears on their doorstep one dark and stormy night and thus begins their life with Babette, a refuge from political strife in France, who has been recommended by a former suitor to be their new housekeeper and cook. Now the sisters....tend to spend more time serving God than serving good food. They appear to eat only boiled flounder and ale bread. Babette, working for free in exchange for roof over her head, says nothing about the fare but quietly begins to make small changes in the lives of the sisters. Fourteen uneventful years pass in the lives of the sisters and Babette.

One day, Babette receives notice that she has won 10,000 francs from the French lottery. The sisters, while happy for her, are crestfallen that she will undoubtedly go back to France with her new found fortune. This windfall occurs at the same time the sisters are planning the 100th anniversary of their father's birthday. Babette asks if she could honor their father with a "real French dinner". The sisters agree and Babette leaves for France for supplies because boiled flounder and wooden bowls just isn't going to cut it.

She returns a few days later, stocked to the gills with all manner of beast and fowl not seen before in the austere village. Cooking commences.

This movie is gorgeous for a lot of reasons not just for the food but also for all the copper pans Babette buys to make the food and the china and glassware. You see the sisters drink water and tea so there's no wine glasses in the house. Babette, being French and all, can't serve a seven course meal without some spectacular wine to go with each course.

Plus the glasses can do double duty as pastry cutters.

Blini Demidoff au Caviar

Babette spares no expense. Caviar, truffles, fresh fruit and champagne.

And the copper, oh that beautiful copper.

Caille en Sarcophage avec Sauce Perigourdine

The meal, of course, is a success and if you haven't seen this movie, I won't reveal too much more because you really should enjoy it for yourself. I just thought it was a nice to time to look at some pretty.



Buzz Kill said...

I've not seen the whole movie but I have seen the cooking scene. Food porn at it's best. And did I see chicken feet in there? Bwahahaha

Big Shamu said...

Absolutely correct, food porn.

HEADS and feet. Snort!

MakingSpace said...

Oh what a beautiful movie, from beginning to end. Thanks for the recommendation, Shamy. Loved it. LOVED. IT.