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Dinner & a Movie: Amélie

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Our videographer Elena Parker -- a serious food and film buff -- is really good at throwing movie-themed dinner parties. She and her friends cook together, serve up, and eat while they watch.

We've asked her to share the menus for her favorite films with us -- here's the latest installment: the whimsical French film Amélie.



2002 was a big year for my relationship with the movies, mostly because of a profound experience in early May which altered the entirety of the universe (at least, it seemed at the time). You see, for me, 2002 was the year of Amélie.

Amelie Amelie

I think most of you know this film. It feels almost as if Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain has become a pillar of sorts for women of my generation, or at least those who blog [someone should write a thesis about Amelie, the internet, and whimsy, methinks]. But for those of you who somehow have not seen the film:

Amélie, by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, stars the fabulous Audrey Tautou as a young, quirky woman in Paris working at a Montmartre café called "The Two Windmills." The discovery of a box of a young boy’s hidden treasures spurs Amelie to seek out the owner and return it. The delivery of the box so enthralls her that she begins assisting others in her own, very special, way. In the midst of escorting a blind man across the street while supplying a colorful narrative of the environment, using a mysteriously traveling gnome to get her recluse father out of the house, or avenging the local grocer’s verbal attacks on his assistant, Amelie stumbles across a man who might just be her soul mate.

Amelie Amelie

Beyond inspiring a long-gestating desire to hang Michael Sowa’s portraits of a dog and a goose wearing pearls above my bed, Amélie changed my entire perspective on what a movie could be. After Amélie, I understood that the magical feeling that I felt when I watched a great film was meticulously designed. I'm talking about design that is more than mere set dressing: rather, a synchronicity of all the pieces of a movie and a phenomenon in which hundreds of people all produce the right emotions at the right time. From the colors, to the music and sound, to the performances, to the cheerfully unexpected computer effects (Amélie melting after an encounter with her would-be-lover, for example), it is an experience of perfect orchestration. Come to think of it, it's not much different than a perfectly prepared recipe.

Amelie Amelie

Towards the end of the film (in a scene which always makes me cry), Amelie bakes her “famous plum cake.” While we never see it finished, I can only imagine that, like the film, it is light, sweet and delectable.

As it happens, food52 has its own delightful plum cake and since the minute I started this column I’ve been saving it for my Amélie post. I can only hope that both the cake and the film produce as much pure delight and perfection for you as they did for me.

(If you click through to YouTube, you can turn on the subtitles.)


Dinner from The Two Windmills

Grilled Bread with Thyme Pesto and Preserved Lemon Cream by fiveandspice

Gilled Bread with Thyme Pesto and Preserved Lemon Cream


French Peasant Beets by Amy_N-B

French Peasant Beets


Mussels for One or Two by lastnightsdinner

Mussels for One or Two


Late Summer Plum Cake by JSCooks

Late Summer Plum Cake


Want more movie menus? See what Elena's serving with Spirited Away and Some Like It Hot.

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