It’s finally starting to warm up in Philly, but there are still big gray piles of snow on the ground and enough chill in the wind to turn our faces red. You probably shouldn’t eat the snow at this point, but if we get fresh–we might!–it’s good to know that a little snow ice cream won’t kill you. Meanwhile, if you’re running out of shows to watch after many cold and icy days indoors, here are a couple of ideas.
First We Feast offers a list of the best food scenes in Broad City. I don’t think I had realized how much food plays a role in character-building and setting up relationships in that show, but there’s really at least one good food scene in every episode. However, like any listicle commenter, I think they left out the best one: Season 1, “Stolen Phone,” Ilana calls Lincoln when she’s worried that Abbi is kidnapped or dead, but forgets to call him to tell him that Abbi is safe. “Abbi’s my friend too,” he protests when he finds out. “I was so worried, I baked a whole cake! And then I ate a whole cake!” But he switches suddenly from aggrieved to hopeful and suggestive, telling Ilana that there’s another cake in the oven and she could come over and help him eat it–“or we could just smash our faces into it.”
Which they do, while Facetiming with Abbi, who wanted to see it happen.
It’s a really sweet moment; the show is always at its best when highlighting the friendship between Ilana and Abbi, which is fierce and loyal despite (or because of?) flaws like Ilana’s eternal mission to push Abbi out of her sexual comfort zones. But it’s also a nice scene between Ilana and Lincoln, who are what I guess you’d call sex friends; the friends part is highlighted here, showing how they genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
Another show repeatedly recommended to me is Sword Art Online. The title refers to a fictional massive multiplayer game that fully immerses the players in a virtual reality. In this animated series, players get stuck inside the game and can’t log out until they defeat it. I’m not very familiar with Japanese animation as a genre, but this world was very recognizable to me, and its depiction of the day-to-day life of level-grinding is hilariously on-point. And, of course, there are examples of all the different in-game food mechanisms I discussed in this post: defeated creatures drop items, sometimes food; the players require regular sustenance as though feeding a meter (although the food only nourishes their in-game avatars and not their real-world bodies); and cafes and taverns play a vital role in worldbuilding and relationship development.
The episode that pulled me into the series begins with the main character Kirito killing a rabbit-like creature which drops an extremely high-value meat. Kirito’s shopkeeper friend encourages him to eat it instead of selling it, but Kirito does not have a high enough cooking skill to do so without ruining it. He enlists the help of his friend Asuna, who has maxed out her cooking skill and often supplies delicious picnic lunches on their monster-killing expeditions. She “cooks” by summoning up the additional ingredients on her in-game menu and tapping each tray with a knife, which instantly transmutes it into chopped and prepped ingredients.
Maxing out her skill made cooking pretty boring, Asuna complains; it’s too simple and fast without all the additional steps and slow simmering of real-world cooking. That’s a familiar dilemma to any RPG player: you can grind a skill until it’s extremely powerful, but the pleasure of those effects is all too short as the game becomes repetitive and easy. On the other hand, the payoff for Kirito and Asuna is still immense: the meal created with top-class meat and top-class cooking was extremely enjoyable to eat, and over this luxurious meal they form a partnership.
The same friend who got me tuned in to Sword Art Online also forwarded me this extremely comprehensive list of cocktails especially designed for each of your companions in the Dragon Age series. Seriously, there is a cocktail for every party member in each of the three games–that’s more than thirty cocktails, and they all have thoughtful little details (e.g. Alistair’s cocktail contains a cherry). I am impressed at the dedication of these players and drinkers.
Because I work from home a few days each week, I’ve been trying to do more adventurous things in the kitchen to make the best use of the staples I already have and the produce that is inexpensive at this time of year. For example, strawberries have been coming in cheaply from somewhere; after chopping up several quarts of them, I followed this suggestion to soak the hulls in clear liquor I’ve been meaning to use up. I’m not sure whether my experiment was successful: after a week, my infusion is a little bitter, but it smells amazing and has a beautiful color. In fact, the gin seemed to leech all the color right out of the strawberry hulls, leaving me a pitcher of weird white stubs…
…as though they’d been drained of color by a rabbit with fangs.
Read or seen any good food media lately?