Kings of Pastry

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My hands flew to my face several times last night.

It was 1:30 AM and I’d made a mistake. At midnight, exhausted after testing four recipes, I loaded up “Kings of Pastry” on AppleTV just to see if it was something I wanted to watch. To say that I was immediately hooked would be a profound understatement; I was so engrossed, that by 1:30 my heart was beating so fast and I was biting my nails so nervously, there was no way I’d ever get to sleep.

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Feast

Here’s an appropriate video for those of you preparing to feast tomorrow; it’s a montage of scenes from great food movies (“Big Night,” “Like Water For Chocolate,” “Goodfellas,” etc) created by Matt Zoller Seitz:

That Thanksgiving scene from “Avalon” fueled a running punchline in my family; every Thanksgiving my dad would say, in a thick Yiddish accent, “You cut the toikey?” My mom would say it too. And thus I hope you all have fun cutting your toikeys tomorrow.

“Ratatouille” & Jewish Assimilation (an essay, with spoilers)

The key moment in “Ratatouille” is not the creation of the title dish, a layered circle of sliced zucchini, eggplant, and tomato perfectly rendered by Pixar’s animators and lovingly sauced by Remy, the film’s protagonist. It’s not the climactic scene of judgment by the film’s primary antagonist, the food critic Anton Ego, voiced by a droll Peter O’Toole. It is, instead, the moment when the father rat, Django–voiced by Brian Dennehy–takes Remy to the surface to show him what humans do to rats. Remy looks up and sees a giant store window filled with rat traps and, more horrifically, his dead brethren strung up with cold, calculated indifference. Taken along with the scene where Remy, in a sewer, overhears a woman complaining about “filthy vermin” the movie becomes–at least for me–a powerful metaphor for the 20th century Jew’s attempt at assimilation.

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