Saturday, September 29, 2012

Here's to You, Senora Robinson

Haha.  So that "whole week of Dinner and a Movie" plan didn't go so well.  But I'll get to them!  Next up is The Graduate and a very 1960s meal - fondue!  I've always been a fan of fondue and I had been wanting to try this extremely non-traditional Fondue with Tequila and Chipotles.  I made a few substitutions based on what I had on hand.  I've found that as long as there is cheese and booze, you can improvise however you want with fondue.  Instead of the chipotles, I used fresh roasted Hatch chiles which were at their peak a few weeks ago.  Using white wine seemed strange in this dish so I substituted Lone Star.  It's the national beer of Texas!  I also decided to add some turkey chorizo, but I think that may have been guilding the lily.  I only make fondue about once a year, so I usually go fairly traditional, but I'm glad I took the chance and branched out.  If you have a favorite fondue recipe, please share!

Of course you can't have fondue without dippers!  While picking up a nice crusty loaf at the local baker is certainly an option, I opted to make the pain de campagne - a French country bread - from The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  It's a rustic loaf made mostly of white flour with a small amount of wheat flour for flavor and texture.  It comes together quickly and can be formed into boule for sandwiches or any number of other shapes.  With a bit of steam in the oven, I got a perfect ratio of crust to soft interior.  I formed half of the dough into an epi (wheat stalk) which not only looks fancy but also maximizes the exterior so that each piece has a crusty edge.  For some variety, I also roasted up a head's worth of cauliflower florets to dip in the fondue.

I enjoyed The Graduate mostly for the soundtrack (Simon and Garfunkel were a frequent presence in my childhood) and the casting of Mr. Feeney as the dad.  However, I had trouble keeping myself from seeing the movie other than through my own, modern lens.  I suspect that, in 1967, this was a tale of disaffected youth refusing to strive for their parents' suburban ideals and adults who aren't happy in the lives they built for themselves.  It's Rebel without a Cause, a toned-down Feminine Mystique, a bit of On the Road (like The Graduate's Benjamin, Sal Paradise just needs to get over himself, quit mooching off everyone around him, and find a job).  Perhaps because I've been a curmudgeon since age 18, none of this particularly resonated with me.  Dustin Hoffman, who was 30 playing 21 while looking 45, is funniest in his discomfort at being seduced by an older woman.  But I didn't much care for Benjamin and saw the movie through Elaine's eyes except for why she could possibly be attracted to him.  The moral of Elaine's story seemed to be "you are smart and driven young woman, here's a lazy, morose partner (who slept with your mom) to drag you down."  I would have been happier with the iconic final scene showing Elaine riding off in the back of the bus alone.

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