Oscars® and Food: 2020 case study

There’s always been a bizarre dichotomy between how people want sports events to last as long as possible yet want award shows to come and go in a premeditated time span.

Nobody would care if the Super Bowl lasted five hours. A championship football game averages three hours and 46 minutes.

By contrast the Oscars truncate heartfelt speeches with gaudy music cues and race against the clock to end things right just as the viewer has achieved a steady buzz.

One thing is certain: tailgate parties encourage social interaction as a background for the worship of physical dominance and the Oscars provide a worthy time frame to eat and drink while rooting for your favorite film.

The Oscars will never equal the ratings or amount of food that goes into Super Bowl Sunday but if it’s the quality of the snack we’re talking about then movie awards utilize savory and sweet outpacing the sports’ sour and salty.

Whatever happens this coming Sunday February 9, you can bet your bottom dollar that “Parasite,” “Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood” and “1917” will be the big winners.

What the winners eat

The trend in Hollywood for the current year’s award shows (including Critics’ Choice, Golden Globes and the Oscars) is vegan. Some associates who attended the Critics’ Choice Awards related there were fast food hamburgers available off camera.

After the Oscars (from the Academy’s press release) “Wolfgang Puck will preside over dishes … such as Sweet Potato Tempura with Mint Cilantro Aioli, Maitake Mushroom Salad with Eggplant Baba Ghanoush, and Campanelle Pasta with Preserved Meyer Lemon, Artichokes and English Peas.”

That’s a lot of vegan.

Foodstuffs based on some of the nominated films for Best Picture provide both a challenge and a respite from the politically correct menus.

“Marriage Story” offers green tea served with Manuka honey. The latter is a great idea for the evening’s first offering.

“Joker” unrolls devoid of food save for TV dinners and lots of cigarettes. “Little Women” has a scene featuring baked items served at Christmas. “Ford v Ferrari” depicts fizzy pop. “Jojo Rabbit” and “1917” take place during wartime so any meals are perfunctory.

“1917” shows the lead characters eating bread in an early scene and a dinner scene in “Jojo” has the young protag and his mom eating soup, bread and red wine.

Three specific films that offer a hodgepodge of culinary delights.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

Since Quentin Tarantino’s film came out last summer the wait for two actual Mexican restaurants spotlighted in the final-act are up to an hour-and-a-half on any time of the given day.

Casa Vega

A call to this Sherman Oaks establishment revealed the recipe for the Tarantino Margarita, which is not listed on their website: Casamigos Tequila, fresh lime, fresh orange juice, stevia, agave, and sparkling water. This tasty beverage retails for $14.50.

Casamigos was bought for $700-million-plus three years ago from its then owners that included George Clooney. Talk about an actor’s payday. Have you ever thought you’re in the wrong business?

Casamigos, like Don Julio and Patron while nearly twice as expensive as 100% agave tequilas like Espolon or Jose Cuervo. That does not really make the margarita any better. Certainly stevia as a substitute for simple syrup is at the behest of the mixer

El Coyote Café

Rose Christoffersen, one of the owners stated in an email that the “House margarita on the rocks and a #1 Combo (crunchy taco, cheese enchilada served with rice and beans) are their most popular items.”

The New Beverly Cinema, owned and operated by Tarantino is just down the street. “The customers like to come in before or after and feel like they’ve lived a little part of Hollywood history,” replied Rose.

El Coyote serves a high-end margarita that includes Patron (Blanco or Reposado), Cointreau and sweet and sour additions.

Mexican restaurants aside the most telling eatery moment in the movie is where Cliff Booth makes Mac and Cheese while watching Mannix on CBS on a Sunday night.

PARASITE

Pan Asian groceries like 99 Ranch Market, which has three locations in Houston and H Mart, with two addresses, have the kind of products needed to replicate the food seen in “Parasite.” The closest locales of these stores to Byline Houston’s World Headquarters are on Blalock Road off I-10.

There are a lot of food references in Bong Joon-Ho’s masterful examination of class warfare. At different times plum extract, squeeze juice boxes, plates of fruit and cakes are depicted.

Korean meals are typically served with lots of side dishes and condiments. Think about adding peach slices to the following meal, as peaches play an important part in the plot.

A pivotal twist involves the making of the dish known as “ram don.” However, that’s a term that only exists in the subtitles to represent the combination of ramen and udon noodles. The actual meal can be made in under 10-minutes and uses Chapagetti and Neoguri pre-packaged noodles, two of the most popular easy-to-serve dishes in Korea.

There are multiple YouTube videos showing how to prepare this dish.

In “Parasite” the maid is instructed by the wealthy mistress to make the meal using sirloin. Again the translation merely indicates sirloin but the actual Korean dialogue refers to a high-end cut of the meat. This goes along with the theme of the film that revolves around the difference between rich and poor families. Anybody can afford the noodles but the steak is expensive, similar to wagyu or prime style beef at your local grocer.

In the current Blu-ray release of “Parasite” an extra featurette has Bong in a Q&A recorded at Fantastic Fest last September talking about the themes of the film and how they are reflected in the set design and the closeness of the characters. “Usually the rich do not smell the poor, they are separated in first class and coach during air travel. But in the movie they have a symbiotic relationship. The rich don’t know how to drive or wash dishes and must rely on hired help.”

THE IRISHMAN

An important scene in Scorsese’s epic examination of gangster mythology has prosciutto bread being eaten with red wine. First when the characters are young and brazen, then later in the film where they eat the same meal in prison only with grape juice substituted for wine.

Prosciutto bread consists of bread made with cubes of prosciutto and provolone cheese, glazed with prosciutto fat.

Scorsese imbues his film with lots of eating: half a grapefruit and scrambled eggs; Total cornflakes cereal with milk at a Howard Johnsons; or hot dogs seared in beer purchased at the chain restaurant Lums in Miami. Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa eats ice cream all throughout the narrative.

Prosciutto bread may be hard to find – certainly harder here in Space City than on the East Coast. But every neighborhood has a nearby Italian bakery that will custom make loafs on order or offer a substitute that makes an excellent pairing with a glass of vino.

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