So many movie masterpieces center around food—from Breakfast at Tiffany’s famous pastry and coffee opening montage to the laughable lobster boiling scene in Annie Hall—and the interplay between food and performance is one we know all too well.
This fall, we’re traveling back in time with a weekly celebration of classic dinners and movies. Whether you prefer an emotional drama or a psychological thriller, we’ll be sure to cover all the classic tropes—filled with food. In an homage to black and white cinema, and a little nod to Cook’s Illustrated magazine, with its 20+ years of signature black and white drawings, we’re pairing some of our favorite recipes with iconic films of yesteryear. For 12 weeks, we’re inviting you to stay in, rent a movie, and cook along with us (and our thematic recipe pairings) as we screen some of the best-loved cinematic works of our time in Cooking With The Classics. We’ll also be offering our readers several chances to win a copy of our beloved Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book along the way, so be sure to enter our giveaway below.
Needless to say, this is a whole new type of Hollywood Diet.
This Week’s Feature Film:
After its release in 1942, Casablanca was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won in three categories—including accolades for Outstanding Motion Picture—and since then, has been hailed as one of the greatest films of all time. Though set in a very specific time and place, the story of love lost, found, and lost again is a universal and enduring tale. Staged against the perilously romantic backdrop of Vichy French-controlled Morocco, where officers, refugees, and conmen mingle, two long-lost lovers cross paths after being torn apart by World War II. While Rick professes to be neutral in all things (and is thus permitted by local authorities to maintain ownership of Rick’s Café Américain), his feelings are stirred when Ilsa, his unforgotten love, strolls into his gin joint. To complicate things even further, Ilsa hasn’t come alone—but instead is accompanied with her husband, Laszlo, in search of travel papers that will allow them to escape capture in Europe.
Finding themselves far away from their old love nest in Paris, Rick and Ilsa struggle to regain communication with one another without blowing their cover. While the circumstances of their chance meeting are grim, the temptation—and opportunity—to rekindle the affair practically drips out of every scene. In the end, Rick, hardened by years of mourning the woman he believed to be lost forever, is forced to choose between love and virtue.
As Thyme Goes By – Ilsa walks into the one gin joint where Rick might be found
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
Ilsa makes an elegant entrance into Rick’s Café Américain and immediately recognizes Sam, Rick’s piano-playing sidekick and old pal from Paris. “Play it once, Sam,” she implores, “For old times’ sake”—referring to the one song that Rick has declared verboten in his establishment, As Time Goes By, a symbol of the love they once shared. Rick hears the first few bars of the sentimental tune and comes down to scold Sam in person, but is surprised to find Ilsa’s beautiful—and equally surprised—face waiting for him.
We think the heartache of Ilsa’s return might have been a little easier for Rick to handle on a full stomach. Ilsa and Rick could have made a perfect reunion meal of our Saffron Couscous Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds, and a side of Sauteed Mushrooms with Shallots and Thyme. It even sounds like the kind of fare that you’d find on the menu at Rick’s Café Américain.
And of course, while we’re at it, we’ll also have a bottle of the best Champagne, and put it on our bill. As Captain Renault puts it best: “It is a little game we play. They put it on the bill, We tear up the bill. It is very convenient.”
Here’s Lookin At You, Kid – Somehow, Rick always knows just the right things to say to a girl
As it turns out, Rick is just the man that Victor Laszlo and Ilsa need in their corner. While Ilsa is torn between her husband and her old flame, Rick is forced to make the difficult choice between keeping Ilsa for his own, or giving her a chance at freedom, and a new life with her husband. The heartbreak reaches a zenith as Rick secures the travel papers for Ilsa and Victor and ushers them onto a plane that’s waiting for take-off. He lifts Ilsa’s chin to wipe away her tears and whispers his now-famous line, “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”
And moving from one kid to another, our tender Grilled Lamb Kofte recipe uses a Middle-Eastern-style spice blend for maximum flavor—perfect for a romantic in-flight meal for two. (You can also watch the kofte in motion in our cooking video.) Just make sure that both parties enjoy equal tastes—dipped in yogurt-garlic sauce, of course.
We’ll Always Have… Room For Dessert – Parisian sweets temper the sting of a love lost twice
Rick remains in Casablanca, alone once again with the memories of his one true love. Even though they’re apart, Ilsa and Rick know “we’ll always have Paris.” But in the meantime, we think it’s time for some dessert. Our French-Style Macaroons (also known as Macarons) are a delicately sweet reminder of the past, and accompanied with our Pistachio Baklava with Cardamom and Rose Water, leave our hearts heavy, but hopeful.
Enter To Win:
If you could invite any classic film star to dinner, who would it be? And what would you serve them? Let us know in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of our Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book.
Want to be nominated for a bonus entry? Play director and share your Cooking With The Classics photo(s) on Instagram using a black and white filter. Be sure to mention @testkitchen and tag each photo them with #ATKclassics. We’ll be announcing our Oscar-worthy winners each week right here on The Feed. Entries due Thursday, October 17th, 11:59pm EST. Giveaway for continental US residents only.
The Envelope Please…
The Oscar for Best Supporting Snack goes to mkingdaley, who won a copy of the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book! Thanks mkingdaley, for your awesome sweet-and-savory snack recipes—we think our recipe for Perfectly Popped Popcorn would be put to great use with your za’atar spice blend—and to all who shared their own favorite movie munchies; read them all here.
Photo Credit: IMDb.com
All recipes free through Friday, October 18th.