Saturday, May 22, 2010

Last Holiday

A remake of the 1950 film Last Holiday starring Alec Guinness as George Bird, 2006’s Last Holiday, starring Queen Latifah in the starring role of Georgia Bird, features some amazingly beautiful and mouth-watering dishes, from simple-to-prepare dishes like shrimp cocktail to a more complicated cassoulet. Even the names are delicious: Poulet Tchoupitoulas, Creole Roasted Duck Hash en Croute, Rissotto Barolo with Truffles, Rouget Citrus Beurre Blanc with Capers, Roast Quail with Brioche Stuffing, and Braised Lamb Shank with Blood Orange Relish, not to mention an amazing Crawfish Gumbo chez Georgia’s Joint and the Hotel Papp’s Stuffed Boiled Fish and an incredible bouillabaisse.

The film also includes some of the best food lines ever written:

--“The poor baby turnips. Nobody likes them, you know? Of course, life is easy if you are a truffle or a shiitake mushroom. But the turnip is to be loved because she’s a self-made woman of vegetables. All the others you can only destroy with cooking. But the turnip, she gets better. So, you see, it’s not how you start but how you finish.”
--“No butter, no cream, no wheat, no dairy, no fat! Eh, merde! Why do they bother to eat?”
--“The secret of life is butter!”

Food, of course, is a metaphor for how to live: if you want to taste life in full, don’t ask the “chef” to make any “substitutions” in the way he or she prepares your meal. As Georgia remarks, “You wait and you wait for something big to happen…and then you find out you’re gonna die.” So, turn your “Book of Possibilities” into a “Book of Realities,” pursue your dreams now, and live without regrets. It’s a common message in Hollywood films, but Last Holiday gives it a very tasty twist.

Fun Fact:
Food Network chefs traveled with the film crew and prepared all the dishes served in the movie. From them, Queen Latifah learned a number of cooking techniques so that she would be convincing as a professional chef. On their website, the Food Network also posted recipes for some of the dishes that appeared in the movie, such as Lobster Salad in Potato Leek Nests and Bananas Foster.

Released January 13, 2006
Directed by Wayne Wang
Written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman

Starring Queen Latifah as Georgia Byrd, LL Cool J as Sean Matthews, Timothy Hutton as Matthew Kragen, Gerard Dépardieu as Chef Didier, Giancarlo Esposito as Senator Dillings, Alicia Witt as Ms. Burns, Susan Kellermann as Gunther, Matt Ross as Adamian, and Ranjit Chowdhry as Dr. Gupta; cameo by Emeril Lagasse as himself

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