Thursday, 16 May 2013

Ep 8 Fromage: Paella on the Rocks


Bittersweet

Cello suite

Rosin raising cries:

 

Gutwrenching.

 

He strings you along

Then plays

you like

a violence.


When you are the food stylist on a show about a cannibal, and the props buyer asks for buckets of sausage casing, you know it’s not for packing wieners for a picnic. Something really awful is going to happen.

By the time I get the script, I already know it’s going to be grisly but nothing in my little life has prepared me for the opening scene. Not happy just impaling nurses with IV hangers, or sticking girls on staghorns, our dear writers are making people into instruments out of split larynx and spilled gut.
Seed pods spilling their guts of olive and peppers
With this visual in mind, who can cook? I sink into my sofa and a memory rises: my brothers and I happily making a drum out of a rabbit skin and a #10 tin can while, beside us in the kitchen, our father cooked the little ex-hopper into a fricassee. There’s a fine line between the hungry and the heinous. We shudder at the sight of a flayed beast but salivate when we smell a roast. From vegan to carnivore the boundaries seem fuzzy. But not so cannibalism. It is a thing so taboo that, in many countries there doesn’t even have to be a law against it.

Why does Hannibal eat people? In a show that is all about empathy, there is no degree of empathy that can help us understand that.
Found these little candied crab snacks in Chinatown but they were too tiny for my Paella
Speaking from the deep of Hannibal’s mind, Bryan Fuller, our incredibly brilliant show writer/creator says “Eat the Rude.” Of course, Hannibal hates rudeness. I, the food stylist speaking from the deep of my stomach say “Cook the Rude.” After all, the essence of cooking is refinement. It is civilization by ritualization. By sliding scale as Levi-Strauss says in The Raw and the Cooked.
Vegetarian blood sausages with fffffava beans from  Ceof Episode (on line)
I guess Hannibal – who could have been such a nice boy if he hadn’t slid into darkness, cooks unruly people to make them better and worthy of his respect. With his batterie de cuisine, he cuts, beats, whips, tosses, binds and grinds them into fine pate or a delicate curry. Then feeds them to each other just for fun. We know he really likes Will. And Alana because Will does. And Bedelia too. But does he like them the way I like duck? With a nice chianti?

So judgy. he needs to lighten up.

So thinking of Hannibal’s subtlety and of his deceptive nature, I decide not to make a lot of the gut theme in the script. A big pile of sausages or chitlin stew would be too obvious.
Crab stuffed with Sausage pilau
I choose crab. Because crabs walk sideways. Never straight. With those big pincer claws always raised and ready to pin you in place and rip you to bits. Evasive and easily provoked -- deking to his right as you lunge to his left. So, Hannibal’s dinner scene will feature crab stuffed with saffron rice and – just to show you he does have the guts, a little bit of sausage.

Salted baby squid: Did they eat the mussels or are the mussels eating them?

Put the rice on, Sugar. Time to cook dinner.

Paella on the Rocks

While we are doing this episode, Jose Andres is jet skiing in the Caymans with Anthony Bourdain but he takes the time to email me – paella does not have sausage. So if you make this with sausage, please call it pilau.

This is a recipe from the marginalia of my cookbook, The Cocktail Chef. Paella cooked aire libre. Take your groceries outside into the summer’s evening light and try it. With a lot of sangria.

2 lb         clams in shells scrubbed clean
2 lb         mussels in shells scrubbed clean
½ lb        cooked chicken (or cooked sausages) cut in chunks
4 lg         tomatoes, cut in chunks
½ tsp      saffron, rubbed
2 cloves garlic,  minced
2 cups    rice
3 cups    stock, wine or water

1. Make the fire’s perimeter out of several large rocks of the same height, or use an iron tripod that can provide level support for your paella pan (or deep sauté pan with a lid).
2. Build a wood fire under the pan.
3. When the flames are licking hotly at the sides of the pan, add oil, garlic, tomatoes, clams and mussels. Throw in that glass of wine you’ve been drinking and cover. Simmer until mussels and clams are just cooked, removing them from the pan with a slotted spoon and transferring them to a mixing bowl as soon as the shells open. Mussels will open first and fast. Clams take longer – be patient. Set cooked seafood aside.
4. To the pan, add the rice and saffron plus enough liquid (water, stock, wine, Bloody Caesar) to equal twice the measure of rice. Allow all to boil gently. If mixture is boiling too rapidly, spread the wood away from the centre of the fire. Boil until the top of the liquid is level with the top of the rice.
5. Scoop out all flaming wood under the pan to lower the temperature, stir rice quickly and cover. Continue cooking until rice is tender (about 20 min). Return seafood to the pan along with cooked chicken or sausage and cover. Cook just until hot. 

Two cannibals are having dinner. One says, “I hate my mother-in-law.” The other replies, “So just eat the noodles.”

Next week: Juicy Beef Tenderloin and Lotus Root Salad



31 comments:

  1. You really do blur the line between appetizing and atrocious. Well done. The scenes where he preps his meat are always the worst for me, but if it weren't for those scenes, the beautiful dishes you create would not be disgusting in a subliminal way. If I may ask, and at the same time display my ignorance of all things culinary (i burn toast) what did the lungs used in the show come from? I was unaware people ate lung (cringe). Keep up the good work, thanks for giving me a new art to appreciate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "beauty shots" (as the close-ups are called in the food photography business) of most of the organs are from pork. As it turns out, most human organs and pig organs the same size and shape. So it's pork lungs for the raw shots and, for the cooked, I carve fake lung out of mortadella or salami because from a food safely standpoint, they are more stable and can endure the hours it takes to shoot a scene. Plus, I don't want the actors to feel uncomfortable about eating the food. You're not the only one who isn't mad about eating lung!

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hate to pester you again, because you are obviously the God of Food, but the design for the dessert is slightly different from the one that made it to the show.
    The fruits that garnish it: in the image we saw there was a fruit in between the rambutan and the kiwi, it had deep dark red skin,quite thick and 4 pods of white fruit flesh , not dissimilar to lychees. I remember buying it from the Vietnamese store and eating it, but for the life of me I cannot remember what its name was. Did you also replace the starfruit? There was a yellow piece of fruit before the kiwi, looked more like caramelised pineapple or mango, didn't have the distinctive shape.
    Your breadpuddings...what can I say? I would give Hannibal a kidney to learn from you, they looked like a soufflé had a particularly naughty encounter with a panettone . Was the cream on top liquored Chantilly? It seemed more loose than bog standard whipped cream. Will stop asking you questions now and just thank you for making my mouth and brain water every week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was a slice of starfruit - maybe engulfed in whipped cream or covered by a shard of caramelized sugar. That was the delicious mangosteen, as Kathy asserted, providing some dark mystery on the plate. And I, too, love tender panettone in bread pudding but because I wanted the puddings to be sturdy for filming, I used regular white Italian bread - crust removed. And that was just heavy cream whipped. But I love your idea of a boozy Chantilly cream. Must do that next time!

      We had about 26 takes for that scene. I had only made enough puddings for about 20 takes so there was a point - now don't be disgusted - where we had to wash off puddings that had already been shot, pat them dry, reglaze them, garnish and send them out again. I would never do that for an eating scene - but still it was a nerve-wracking experience to run out of fresh re-sets which is a food stylist's worst nightmare.

      Delete
  4. Your salted baby squid in a clam also look to me like Geoducks. Now that would be a RUDE thing for Hannibal to cook. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll never forget the first time I saw a geoduck. I was 12. My brothers took me clam-digging and when the sand fell away from the shovel revealing that well-endowed mollusk, I screamed. The boys fell about laughing, rolling around in the wet sand congratulating each other on, once again, freaking out their little sister.

      Delete
  5. Andra, fruit you're probably looking for: Mangosteen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So it is, thank you so much Kathy! I'll go read up on it.

      Delete
    2. Good Mangosteen are fairly expensive so don't be fooled by those inexpensive bags of small ones (1.5 inches in diameter). They are almost impossible to open ( you should be able to open them easily by crushing them firmly but gently between your palms until the shell starts to crack, then you pull the thick brown shell away to reveal the soft white fruit inside). The good ones, in my experience, are at least 2 - 2.5 inches in diameter. Choose the ones that have no green at all and shells that have a little bit of give (OK, I'm not endorsing squeezing fruit before you buy but don't buy rock-hard ones.) Get them at the Asian markets. They are so delicious - one of my favorite tropical fruits.

      Delete
  6. Janice, there was an episode where Hannibal was making some kind of egg dish for a girl, and I'm very curious to know what it was. It seemed like the egg was nested in bread.
    Could you pass along the name of that dish?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Evie, I think Janice answered before , if I understand correctly.
      It's here, http://janicepoonart.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/episode-4-coquilles-with-foie-gras.html#comment-form , in the comments section , the last two comments- 8th and 9th. Hope it helps :).

      Delete
    2. Yes, those are High Life Eggs, from an old Spanish manuscript. Kind of Egg-in-the-Hole but fried in lots of oil. I'll post the recipe next week.

      Delete
  7. Barely came across your blog today and I have to say how hungry I get while watching Hannibal! Everything looks so mouthwatering that I wouldn't hesitate to eat what Hannibal would put in front of me, human or not. :P
    Your recipes are so helpful, thanks for posting them! Your sketches are a delight and the finished product is truly an art.
    Congrats on your success and I look forward to watching more of your creations. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for finding this blog - I haven't been terribly clever about linking it as my knowledge of how blogging works is pretty limited. I'm grateful to everyone who has taken the time to seek it out. And thanks for putting up with my photography. They are my continuity photos - taken on set on the fly with available light (on set it's always too much or too little) and in my kitchen so I can replicate accurately for reshoots.

      Delete
  8. Janice, just wanted to thank you for maintaining this blog--most of us only think about cooking and eating food, not preparing it for a camera and 26 takes, and the view you're giving us into the trials and tribulations of a food stylist are fascinating [if you wanted to keep going with a non-Hannibal-specific blog, I'd be there]. Is it wrong of me to hope you have to do an ice cream scene at some point in the future, just so we can read about it? :)

    Also, much thanks on the mangosteen tips! I've never been able to find ones that weren't hard as wood, but now I know they're out there. I miss the hell out of the freeze-dried mangosteen and rambutan Trader Joe's used to sell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking about a "summer supplement" to blog while Hannibal is on hiatus. A friend of mine is working on a graphic novel about a girl who lives in her food truck. Might just run that along with a short Hannibal entry.

      As for doing ice cream - what a diabolical thought!!!! It's not just the nightmare of melting. Once, I kept some ice cream on dry ice too long and it was so cold when I put it out, it stuck to everyone's tongues when they tried to eat it. Still trying to erase that from memory.

      Delete
    2. You should come to Comic-Con. Hang with all the other graphic novelists.

      And OMG, about the dry ice. Yow. So, you rise to the challenge of using real ice cream? Wow.

      Delete
    3. I often think of going to Comicon - it always looks like everyone has so much fun. But my editor has me working on a novel w/o graphics. Needless to say, Hannibal has kept me from my re-writes so my manuscript is getting nowhere. Thankfully, the blog helps keep my writing chops honed.

      As for the dry ice - I try to use it in ice cream film work, depending on the shot - because good-looking ice cream substitute is inedible and the more palatable options such as coloured mashed potatoes are so unconvincing looking.

      Delete
  9. And they didn't show the dinner that closely. Dammit! But I LOVE the dessert though. Two of my national fruits are on there! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know!!!!!! But on Hannibal, the food's getting way more closeups than is normally the case in most series or movies. Usually, some actor puts their head or hand in front of my food or the camera is on their faces and my food is out of the frame. Or I've spent 3 days making a beautiful buffet and you can't see it because of all the extras standing around in front of it. This has been a food stylist's dream job.

      Delete
  10. Would you please, please, pretty please post the recipes for the vegetarian blood sausages and fava beans, and also the lovely breadpudding with topping? I know you're incredibly busy, so I understand if you need a considerable amount of time to do so. I would so appreciate it!

    Oh, and a drink (wine, liquor, or cocktail) suggestion to go with it?

    Tiffany

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I will post these recipes during the summer hiatus. I'm not sure when shooting will resume but I think in early fall. So I should have time to do a few.

      Delete
    2. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :) BTW, congrats on the renewal!

      Delete
  11. I've just discovered your blog after doing a Google search for the pudding in the episode "Fromage", and wow! I think your work is simply fabulous and I'd go so far as to say you probably have one of the best jobs in the world! Amazing stuff!

    Is it wrong that my mouth waters when I'm watching Hannibal? That pudding really got the gastric juices flowing!

    I'm looking forward to the treats you have in store for us for the rest of the series (we're a little behind over here in Blighty!)

    Pete

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this is the job of jobs. It has been such an amazing experience. Everyone working on Hannibal is so talented and creative and no one ever seems to say "Hold back - that's too crazy" - well once in a while, but not in a way that stifles creativity.

      I'll post my recipe for bread pudding during the hiatus.

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello,

    I am e very french fan of your blog : )))) but , also many anglosaxon, or querty keybord > not Ceof but Œuf .... a "o" glue with a "e" and not a c with a e > LATIN CAPITAL LIGATURE OE unicode 0152 / 0151

    And "foie gras "au" torchon" et not "en".

    let orthography , et lets me tell you that your recips are succulante; very reffine : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I appreciate the correction. I must have been tired when I typed in "en torchon" instead of "au torchon". The episode is actually called "Ceuf" with a "C". I also thought it was supposed to be "Oeuf" but was corrected. It confused a lot of us.

      Delete
  14. Hi! First of all I am completely addicted to this blog. Your work is so beautiful and inspiring; I can't wait for next season!

    Can you tell me a bit more about those little crabs? I'm always on the hunt for something new and thinking they might have them somewhere in my local Chinatown (NYC). Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nicole-
      The little crabs are in the snack department - they are dried and candied. But hard to find. I guess they don't sell well here. I have seen them live in early fall in high end wholesale sushi fish markets. Very cute but then you have to cook them - maybe deep-fry til crisp but that seems unnecessarily cruel...maybe poach til dead then toast them under the broiler. I think you might find them (candied) in Japanese stores too, sold as Mini Crab Snack to eat while drinking.

      Delete