Films for Foodies: Big Night Takes Italian Cuisine to Cinematic Heights
Why this is a foodie film
Unlike the previous film I highlighted (The Silence of the Lambs), Big Night is overtly about food and what goes on in the kitchen and behind the scenes of a restaurant. Not only is the preparation of some of the dishes filmed in such a step-by-step manner that the footage could almost be used as a recipe, but it's also an interesting look into some less well-known traditional Italian cuisine, like the timpano.
The fictional timpano is related to the timballo, which means drum, and is constructed in a variety of ways depending upon the country and region. In Big Night, it's an old-school Italian recipe that includes a thin layer of puff pastry, pasta, tomato sauce, meat, and hardboiled eggs layered one on top of the other and then baked like a casserole-lasagne hybrid. The scene in which the timpano is finally served is now a classic, thanks to Pascal's terrifyingly hilarious line at the end (see below).
Also notable is the fact that if the film employed a food stylist, he/she chose not to overdo it with the glitz and glam often found in food on the big screen. The dishes look as if they were prepared in a modest kitchen (albeit by a master chef). Rather than creating items that look too good to eat, the chefs prepare food that make viewers want to reach through the screen and grab a bite for themselves.
Best food scene
These scenes track the production of the timpano, followed by its service to the hungry crowd. The first clip shows -- masterfully -- how it's assembled, while the second scene builds tension. Is it as perfect as it should be? Will the people love it? Check it out:
What you should eat
Though I don't know of any restaurants in Houston that prepare the equivalent of a timpano, some of the best, most awe-inspiring Italian food I've had in town has come from Ciao Bello.
I always dine in at the chic Galleria-area restaurant, but I've seen many people order meals to-go from the bar, and they look perfectly packaged to make it home hot and ready for dinner. To get in the full spirit of Big Night, you're going to need lots of wine, for starters. Perhaps a nice Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Pair that with some bruschetta di scamorza, osso buco ravioli and parmesan-crusted red snapper ravello.
Not quite the same as the jaw-dropping timpano, but molto bene just the same.