Ratatouille

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I hope by this time that you've all had a chance to see Ratatouille. I've looked forward to it for months as the trailers made me homesick. And last Friday I took time off to see the first showing in the borough at Cinema 5 on Heister Street; they've gone digital in some of the 5, with an appropriate upgrade to better screens. Everything about the film was so good that I can forgo comments on the animation technique and focus on the Film. For me, this Pixar piece sets a standard that means we'll no longer forgive an animated films shortcomings because of a few advancements in technique. The Rat has arrived; the cinimatography is rich, the colors perfect, the cinéma vérité acting- sublime. The story is as memorable as any of the classic fairytales; what was Snow White like the first time? Mary Poppins? The complete experience is soul warming.

But I'm a cook. Maybe Remy's soliloquy on the music of flavors won't strike such a familiar chord in you. Maybe clogs and checked pants aren't familiar and possibly you won't be impressed by the staging or Colette saying, with accurate perceptions, "Cooks... are pirates!" but do appreciate this:
The signature dish starts out as thin slices of squash- green and yellow- arranged with slices of plum tomato and tiny eggplant in a pan to be roasted. The water cooks out, the flavors concentrate, the sugars caramelize. The disks are the size of American quarters, and no larger (This is the size to pick your zuchini- the French style...as Maurice used to say), are arranged on a plate then sauced very sparingly. Oh man. You can keep that big bowl of soup most people try to give you; this is art.

So this weekend, if you're considering being Transformed, see Ratatouille and transform your heart.

7 Comments

Cole said:

I am going to try and take Madeline to see it this weekend. I think I am looking forward to it more than she is.

gary said:

Hey Dave,

We caught it last night, and it was great! Made me want to take another crack at my Bouchon cookbook. The Paris rooftops were spectacular.

My favorite part by far was the Ego flashback sequence. That was beautifully done, and all without a word.

Dave said:

I loved the scene, too. I was afraid to say too much when I was encouraging folks to see it. You eat tripe? Man, I never would've figured... We were going to run a dish once that Maurice insisted on calling "offal"- minced pieces of what could be described as veal formed into small rillettes. We couldn't convince him that in this country "offal" pretty much meant organic garbage.
Tasty, though.

Cole said:

We just got back. The Ego flashback gave me goosebumps ... both Madeline and I loved the film. Made me long to travel.

gary said:

Hey, I'm not brave enough for entrails. The Bouchon cookbook I mentioned is from thomas keller's bistro restaurant. It may have tripe, etc. in it but I doubt it; it's mostly straightforward dishes like steak frites, tartines, duck confit, etc. I gave up on the book after a few tries because keller has so many steps and the first few dishes didn't turn out well.

In other words, offal-free. Though I bet Remmy could have done something nice with them, too.

Dave said:

I think it was the earlier book- French Laundry? where Keller says it's easy to cook a filet or trout and call yourself a chef. But really, you're just heating food. Cooking tripe, offal, is a transcendent experience. (I think Keller advised on the film.)

I think it's really cool that Madeline loved the film; I don't think just every little person will be able to find merit in it. Must be the home cooking.

Cole said:

Maybe so, but it is coming from her Mother. Funny you mention "The French Laundry" ... Kristin keeps it in her kitchen and reads it constantly. That is saying something ... she keeps only two books in her kitchen. She finds inspiration in the pages. I find inspiration in her :-)

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