Celluloid Sole

February 23rd, 2013 § 0 comments

The coming Academy Awards reminds HG that dining is always treated in a perfunctory manner in films and television. Yes, there are elaborate dining room scenes in such Masterpiece Theater epics as Downton Abbey. The clothes are great and the service (butler, footmen, etc.) looks exquisite. But, what, exactly, are these aristocrats eating? And, is it any good? Drinking gets lots of attention. Much tippling but little tipsiness. Last night, however, HG discovered an exception to cinema’s superficial treatment of dining. After watching brilliant, funny Bill Maher, HG channel surfed. HG stopped at the film adaption of John Le Carre’s, The Constant Gardener. Here’s the scene HG watched: The film’s protagonist, played by Ralph Fiennes, is in London to meet with the aristocrat, Sir Bernard Pellegrin. Meeting place, of course, is the aristocrat’s venerable Pall Mall club. Nice camera work detailing all of the palatial spaces and antique detailing of the club. Into the dining room for lunch. Dark woods. Nicely spaced tables. Subdued lighting from chandeliers. And, here comes the great, cinematic food moment. Sir Bernard suggests sole. Mentions that it is available “Meuniere” or grilled. Fiennes’ character chooses grilled. There are some murmurs and then all action ceases as the camera focuses on an alluring still life. There is the sole, dusted with chopped parsley and glittering with melted butter. Nestled beside it on the plate are small boiled potatoes and what appears to be some fresh asparagus spears. The camera does not move. The food obsessed viewer has plenty of time to absorb this perfection. Mind you, this has nothing to do with the plot. Obviously, there was a food nut in the cutting room. If you want to experience a London Dover Sole experience, HG suggests J. Sheekey in the theater district. The dish will bend your credit card but is well worth it.

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