Happy President’s Day! I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated this particular strange American holiday, and I’m certainly not going to start under the current administration, but I did take the opportunity to head home to New Haven for a bit of rest and relaxation. And for me that means movies and baking (though the baking was not my best effort…more on that later.) First, the film:
Had I seen this one before?
Nope. Which was surprising to both of my parents. All I knew was the opening sequence with the team running down the beach.
Top 3 observations on this viewing?
- This movie is so incredibly British. Which means, it’s charming, incredibly well acted, and obsessed with questions of whether it is acceptable to focus on individual excellence over a “feeling of esprit de corps.” Which as an American is hilarious to me.
- The depiction of Americans as professional, running machines that are borderline evil or Bible thumpers. It’s always funny to me (especially in later Richard Curtis movies), but here it is particularly pronounced.
I mean, look at him with his hat on backwards, how gauche.
- I love a good sports movie, and this is one of the best. It’s a classic for a reason. And I like that it takes on other issues, anti-Semitism and commitment to faith, without getting too preachy or overreaching for metaphors. These men are more than just runners, but true Olympians, then as now, are a unique breed motivated by physical challenge, which, as I am very much not, will always be fascinating to me.
What did it beat? Did it deserve to win?
Atlantic City – Never heard of it.
Raiders of the Lost Ark – I love that this was nominated, but of course it didn’t win.
This is tough. Reds is one of my favorite movies of all time, but Chariots is pretty fantastic too. I’m going to go with, I would have voted for Reds but I’m not mad that Chariots of Fire won.
Bechdel Test Pass?
Nope. There are two named women, they are both reluctantly supportive partners to their respective champions. They never meet. (This is one of those cases where this didn’t bother me that much. Cambridge, where most of this narrative takes place, was an overwhelmingly male environment. It would be strange and forced to shoehorn women into this particular narrative.)
Sybil (Alice Krige) seeing Harold off at port – in a shot later echoed in a future Best Picture, Titanic
OK, dessert time, I wanted to do a flaming dessert for obvious reasons, but…that turns out to be trickier than I thought…
Ingredients for cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 cups of your favorite ice cream, I used strawberry field
Ingredients for meringue and flambe
- 6 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2-2 cups brandy
Prepare the cupcakes
- Heat oven to 350F and line cupcake pan with papers
- Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt
- In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions
- Beat in vanilla extract
- Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour
- Divide batter evenly into liners, filling them about 2/3 full
- Bake for 15-20 minutes (*check them at 15, mine took 18 minutes)
- Remove from oven and let cool
- Peel away cupcake liners and discard
- Cut a small divot out of the top of each cupcake, large enough to hold ice cream
- Fill each divot with ice cream
- Put filled cupcakes in freezer
Prepare the meringues
- In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy
- Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form
- Gradually beat in the sugar until the meringue is stiff and glossy
- Preheat oven to the hottest setting
- Remove the cupcakes from freezer
- Set each cupcake on their own small place
- Place the plates onto a baking sheet
- Cover each cupcake with meringue using an offset spatula
- Place the sheet into the oven until lightly browned (*pay close attention and take them out exactly when they are browned)
- Remove from oven
- Pour tablespoons of brandy over each cupcake
- Ignite the brandy and let burn until the flame subsides
- When the flame dies down serve immediately
Or…this could happen:
We did try them, they tasted like cheap brandy… But the unlit ones (ie the ones I didn’t put in the oven/douse with brandy tasted good…)