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:
To Kill a Mockingbird is the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel, directed by Robert Mulligan, and starring Mary Badham in the role of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch.
Atticus Finch, a small-town lawyer and widower with two young children, believes in courage above all else: Fighting for justice, even though it will likely be an uphill battle. The novel and film, told from the perspective of his daughter, Scout, gives an account of the American South in the 1930s—including widespread poverty and institutionalized racism. Still, Atticus goes to great pains to teach his children the value of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Well-received by audiences at the time of its release in 1962, the late film critic Roger Ebert called it “a time capsule, preserving hopes and sentiments from a kinder, gentler, more naive America” in 2001 and notes its ironic timing as a precursor to the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers, among others.
Southern Table Staples – Calpurnia will even let you eat the tablecloth, if you want
“That boy’s yo’ comp’ny and if he wants to eat up the tablecloth you let him, you hear?”
A schoolyard skirmish between Scout and Walter Cunningham is all but forgotten when her brother Jem invites Walter over for lunch. When Walter, one of the poorest kids in town, pours maple syrup all over their housekeeper Calpurnia’s beautiful meal, Scout is appalled at his culinary faux pas, asking what the “sam hill” he’s doing. She learns a lesson in manners, however, when Calpurnia scolds her quick judgement, explaining “There’s some folks who don’t eat like us, but you ain’t called on to contradict ‘em at the table when they don’t.”
We imagine our Black-Eyed Peas and Greens would make a tasty addition to Calpurnia’s lovingly cooked stick-to-your-ribs meal. And while we’ve never tried dousing them in maple syrup… we certainly won’t contradict you if you do.
Quite The Ham – Scout’s Halloween costume saves her bacon
“This night my mind was filled with Halloween – there was to be a pageant representing our county’s agricultural products; I was to be a ham.”
Walking home from their Halloween Agricultural Pageant, Scout and Jem are ambushed by Bob Ewell. Even though Atticus had already lost the case against Bob’s daughter, Mayella, Bob seeks revenge for his humiliation in court, by attacking the Finch children. Ewell does break Jem’s arm, but Scout’s Smoked Ham costume ends up saving her life, and Boo Radley emerges from the shadows to rescue the pair in the nick of time.
While Scout got to “ham” it up in her adorable costume, we think you might have a little more fun eating it. Our recipe for Roast Fresh Ham serves an ensemble cast though, so some dinner theater might not be out of the question. You might even invite your reclusive-but-heroic neighbor over for a bite.
Miss Maudie’s Shinny-Soaked Treat – A taste of the cake that made Maycomb famous
“Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight.”
One of the few women in town who shuns petty gossip (and has a few killer one-line comebacks to stop bigots in their tracks), Miss Maudie Atkinson quickly endears herself to the Finches. Refusing to pass judgement on others, Miss Maudie pays no mind to the era’s social taboo of alcohol, baking her famous Lane Cake full of “shinny” (more commonly known to modern audiences as Moonshine).
While some traditional recipes for Lane Cake call for a “wineglass full,” our version has distilled it down to five tablespoons—enough to flavor, but not enough to “make you tight.” And while Miss Maudie prefers Bourbon particularly, we’ve found that any whiskey will do just fine.
Enter To Win:
We love a great costume design—especially if it involves a giant ham suit! If you could be dressed up as any food for Halloween, what would you be? 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? Cook the recipes on this page and share your Cooking With The Classics food 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 Wednesday, October 30th, 11:59pm EST. Giveaway for continental US residents only.
The Envelope Please…
The Oscar for Best Original Kitchen Score goes to erin m, who won a copy of the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book! Thanks erin m, for reminding us that kid-friendly music can help make dinner preparation a family affair, and to all who shared their own favorite suppertime sounds; read them all here.
Photo Credit: IMDb.com
All recipes free through Wednesday, October 30th.