Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Do you always put food in your plays?

A director posed that question to me as he was trying to understand what a "zeppole" was. As if rehearsed, my cast of ten answered as one: "Yes! She does." I never realized that. It makes sense - characters eat and you write what you know, but I have lately realized that my students are well-versed in how to make food props because of all the dining I have included over the years.

In Ciao Cinderella, I have one long scene devoted to the history of Dove Bread. And another long scene devoted to the proper way to make ragu. The Academy of Cooking in Bologna decreed that there should be no nutmeg. Other cooks disagreed. Arguments still continue. And in Ciao, that ingredient is hotly debated. My recipe includes nutmeg.

My students looked up the various recipes on the web. One enterprising student made it.

Zeppoles ...
and cannolis ...
are discussed in By Candlelight - a tale of youth coming together after 9/11. Even in dramatizing the aftermaths of a terrorist attack, I was able to lighten some of the intense scenes with food.

The lack of food is discussed and is the catalyst for what happens in The Hanging of the Greens - a holiday play.
Meet Me at the Fair is a tale of holding on to your dreams - but the characters constantly move on and off stage with corn dogs and cotton candy.

Fourteen loaves of bread were "built" for Commedia Delight.

And my characters name were all food-related: Pane, Dolci and Teeny Tortellini
In Cockamamie Tales from Chelm, whole scenes are devoted to the discussion gefilte fish, challah and kugel.

And the play I am currently working on - The Magic Fishbone - ensures my students will be making fish and fishbones this coming summer. At least it's healthy! And speaking of healthy - last night we had our first thunderstorm. A sign of spring, but snow is expected. I am betwixt and between spring eating but wanted something a wee bit hearty, so devised this:
(Play with amounts)
2-3 T olive oil
Broccoli crowns
bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
freshly shredded Parmesan
Heat olive oil in medium-large skillet (enough to hold in a single layer all the broccoli you are cooking). Add broccoli. (I added 1 lb.) Saute still just softening. Add bread crumbs (I added about 1/2 cup - a wee bit too much). Toss till bread crumbs are nicely browned. Season. Put on platter. Top with Parmesan and serve.

I served it with leftovers. It all went. Maybe I'll but broccoli in my play. As long as I am teaching my young actors to cook, I must as well make sure they appreciate their vegetables.
And in a return to sweets: I baked my second Tuesdays with Dorie's recipe of the week: Blueberry Crumb Cake. The results are at: Cover Girls Cooking. I never thought of ymself as a baker but I am slowly (with TWD help) changing that perception!


Anonymous said...

May I suggest roasting the broccoli on high heat with a little olive oil and kosher salt, then adding the toppings. We do this all the time and think the roasting just adds so much!

Claudia said...

I shall do that tomorrow! I roast many vegetables - but never broccoli. Thanks so much!

Heather said...

almost all of my savory italian recipes include nutmeg. i just adore it!

Sara said...

That broccoli looks great! We're having broccoli tonight too, but I'm just steaming it - not very adventurous!

Claudia said...

I love smelling nutmeg after being grated. It's addicting.

And am roasting brocolli tonight as suggested. My daughter's been scarfing it up. Although steaming works!

Elyse said...

I think it is so wonderful that you incorporate food into your plays. Food is such a powerful thing: it evokes memories, forges new ones, brings people together. It's a common language; it can tell it's own story! I took a class in college called Food in American Culture, and we read tons of literature in which food was featured prominently within the story line! It was great.

Speaking of awesome food, this broccoli and breadcrumb dish looks delicious. I love broccoli, and I can't wait to try this!

Claudia said...

Food is forever linked with culture and lives and such a lovely way to share both.

Anonymous said...

How fun that you put the food in your plays! Your broccoli looks really good with bread crumbs and Parmesan!

Debbie said...

I love broccoli with olive oil and parmesan. Threre's a great Italian cookbook Ciao Italia that has some wonderful recipes.....

Claudia said...

Thanks. I do have CIAO ITALIA, CIAO TSCANY, CIAO UMBRIA, etc. I like Ms. Esposito... and have way too many Italian cookbooks.