Monday, August 10, 2009

Noir at the Table

Submitted by actor Neal Starbird

With Heist Play, Mitch Vermeersch and The Ruckus are examining elements of film noir, a cinematic style, in the context of live theatrical performance. Got me to wondering, where else can this style be extended? There have been other stage explorations; George F. Walker's Theatre of the Film Noir being a blatant example. Certainly fashion and music can draw heavily on ideas put forward in those films (though it would be hard not to cop as simply "retro"). What about the dining room? With field-to-table emerging as the Seattle Sound of the new era, can styles and aesthetics closely associated with another medium be satisfactorily pulled across the art/craft barrier and plopped on a plate in front of us?

What sort of thing would make a meal
noir? You could easily say, "Bring a couple of bottles of Oregon Pinot, and away we go!" And, hey, that's a start! There's plenty of alcoholic beverages that lend themselves to the mood; the inhabitants of those unhappy films thought as much. In addition to the red wine, whiskey would seem appropriate. For dessert, you can throw out some deep Spanish sherry, and, of course, coffee is right in there.

And on the plate, how do we want to approach it? Little jumps to mind from the movies. Maybe the odd diner hamburger steak and fries, but maybe we can do better. Maybe we think of dark flavors, things redolent with
umami, things like mushrooms and beef. Maybe bring the burger-steak and spuds idea uptown with a heavy stew of meaty shiitake and beef shoulder braised in red wine and whiskey with some roast potatoes on the side. That feels like a delicious bowl of deep, dark americana.

Another way to look at it: seems like there's an awful lot of tension in those movies between the haves and the have-nots. Let's look at pairing high-end items with more humble ingredients. Take that expensive piece of tail we call Lobster and let it lay down with some honest, hard-working noodles. But noodles packing a bit of chili heat. Lobster with chili noodles? I'll eat that while I sit on the wharf and watch the fog roll off the bay.

Some of you may read this and wonder "where's the recipe card, pal?" Well, you know what? Sometimes in life things just don't turn out the way we expect 'em to. Ain't that a daisy?

1 comment:

Allison said...

I love Neal Starbird. And now I'm hungry.