As Oscar Sunday approaches this weekend, this blog does not anticipate what the stars will be wearing on the red carpet or engage in ballot discussions about who will win Best Director (Ang Lee, you read it here first), but what are we going to nosh on for six hours. Yes, you read that right. Six hours. At our house the festivities begin in the mid-afternoon as we flip back and forth between the multi-channel coverage of Hollywood’s biggest night.
Living in LA we are fortunate to have at our remote control an embarrassment of riches with local TV stations covering every inch of the red carpet – once we have figured out where E!, the TV Guide Network, ABC, and local reporters like KTLA's Sam Rubin and Eyewitness News' George Penachio have staked out their spot, it is a perverse form of entertainment to follow a specific star down the carpet as they answer the same questions from different reporters.
But it’s not a party without food and the Academy Awards presents a rare opportunity to prepare gastronomical offerings that play off the many nominated films. Here are some ideas:
With “Les Miserables” and “Amour” in the mix, a good French wine is certainly necessary. I wouldn’t recommend serving the fuel/paint thinner distilled moonshine perfected by Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”, but Leonardo di Caprio’s evil Calvin Candie serves beer while enjoying a “Plantation Pearl Diver” himself.
Plantation Pearl Diver
1/2 fresh lime juice
1/2 fresh Orange Juice
1/2 Don's Gardenia Mix
1/2 Lemon Hart Demerara rum
1 1/2 gold Puerto Rican rum (Don Q)
4 oz crushed ice
blend for 20 sec
strain into tall glass.
Since alcohol was forbidden in the Teheran set Best Picture nominee “Argo”, it would be fun to play an anti-drinking game and practice abstinence whenever an “Argo” winner steps up to the podium. On the other hand, if Denzel Washington wins Best Actor for "Flight" all bets are off and it's time to drink like a fish.
Speaking of fish, in Ang Lee's beautifu adaptation of “Life of Pi”, a boy is stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger named Richard Parker, but they do survive on fish, biscuits, and seaweed.
In Kathryn Bigelow’s exceptional thriller “Zero Dark Thirty”, CIA agent Maya (Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain) offers hummous to a detainee. Apricots also play a role.
There is a breakfast scene between the elderly couple beautifully played by Jean Louis Trintingant and Best Actress nominee Emmanuelle Riva in the deeply moving "Amour" involving a soft boiled egg. Breakfast food of a different sort plays a role in David O’ Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” as Tiffany (Best Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence) and Pat (Best Actor nominee Bradley Cooper) have this conversation in a diner:
Tiffany: Why did you order Raisin Bran?
Pat: Why did you order tea?"
Tiffany: Because you ordered Raisin Bran.
Pat: I ordered Raisin Bran because I didn't want there to be any mistaking it for a date.
Tiffany: It can still be a date if you order Raisin Bran.
Pat: It's not a date.
Unless your guests are serious “Seinfeld” fans I wouldn’t recommend bowls of raisin bran, but raisin bran cookies are a good way to go.
Playing Pat’s mom, Best Supporting Actress nominee Jacki Weaver’s most memorable line refeences “Crabby snacks and homemade”. Crabby snacks involve crab meat, cheese spread and some seasonings spread on English muffins. Alternatively, some crabby snacks can be made without any crab – the “crabby” refers to a type of Old Bay seasoning – and involves a dip made with cheddar, mustard and paprika.
Since SLP is nominated for all the major categories, just go with the whole Philadelphia theme and serve up Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches or soft pretzels. Stop by Galco’s and pick up a soda pop (invented in Philadelphia) like Hires Root Beer, Franks Beverages' unique Black Cherry Wishniak or Vanilla Cream, and Levis Champ Cherry.
Best Actress nominee Naomi Watts is superb in the tsunami drama “The Impossible” which is set in Thailand, so Thai food from a local restaurant like The Pot is an easy way to go.
In the little film that could, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis is called Hushpuppy so deep fried cornbread balls are an easy snack, especially paired with crab for the memorable scene where her dad exhorts the young girl to “Eat it like a beast!”
As noted above, Denzel Washington was brilliant as an alcoholic pilot in “Flight” (if you’ve got any of those small hotel fridge drink bottles, this is the night to use ‘em up) and you could go airline theme by serving small packets of peanuts or TV dinners gussied up like economy class trays. I do not, however, recommend his main source of energy in the film: cocaine.
The one sure bet of the evening is Anne Hathaway taking home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for phlegming her way through “I Had a Dream”, but considering the story is about the starving peasants of Paris, the movie doesn’t offer as many dining options as one would think. Of course, Best Actor Nominee Hugh Jackman’s Jean ValJean was sentenced to prison for stealing a loaf of bread so there’s that.
Probably better to go with the stirring lyrics “RED! The blood of angry men! BLACK! The dark of ages past!” and serve your starving guests Red Velvet Cupcakes (RED!) with dark chocolate frosting (BLACK!). This way, befitting a story set during the French Revolution, you can let them eat cake.
What are your Academy Award nominated movie themed food ideas for the Oscars?