For Christmas, I gifted my partner, Quinn, a cookbook written by a favourite YouTuber of ours, Andrew Rea. The book and channel both are called Binging with Babish, each episode recreating iconic dishes from our favourite movies and TV shows. Missing the holiday food you have come to know, love, and crave? Try Ross’s Thanksgiving sandwich from Friends! (Yes, that sandwich.) Or, for something sweeter, Buddy the Elf’s delicious (?) dessert pasta! Want to “leave the gun, take the cannoli”? This cookbook has you covered, Coppola fans. Buon appetito.
As part of a sort of fun, communal New Year’s resolution, Quinn and I decided to make one recipe from the book every other week. Sounds manageable, right? We love cooking! We might love cooking even more than we love Uber Eats (marginally)!
Not wanting to bite off more than we could chew, our first dish was one of the simplest recipes in the book: a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, a la Creed. We heeded the author’s advice from to skip the mayo as featured in the movie. Similarly to the author, we also used our artistic license to purchase a more moderately priced steak (the recipe called for ribeye).We popped those in the freezer, got in our PJs, and after 30 minutes began cutting the meat into thin slices, which is around the time I realized the preparation of this meal was more of a quick-and-dirty one-man operation, especially with our limited countertop space. While Quinn did a lot of the leg work on the meat, I laid out the toppings and convinced myself that I was Integral to The Mission. The whole affair took 15 minutes flat and it was one of the best sandwiches of my life. Here is a bad picture of it:
After this fast and easy affair, we decided our next recipe would be one of the more illustrious recipes in the book. Upon flipping through the recipes, we came to discover that a Dutch oven is a cornerstone of this cookbook, something we were sorely missing. Consequently, our next dish was also on the simpler side: the “Chef’s Special” from Moonlight (or Pollo a la Plancha).
Though this was only marginally more complex than our initial meal, there were still some challenges. For one: does that rice belong to me or does it belong to my roommate? (We decided the former.)
I was in charge of the mise-en-place-ing, and the beans. I made the rookie mistake of listening to the video while I cooked, heeding the instructions to “leave just a little of the liquid” from the beans, whereas the cookbook indicates that I should have used the full can of beans – no draining required. My beans were, as a result, less mushy than pictured in the cookbook, but no less mouthwatering.
We enjoyed this meal while watching Moonlight and also crying. Please see the delicious results below (for the second time, I learned that food photography must be the most challenging art form. The food smells overwhelmingly inviting and I had no patience for artistry):
After these two tries, I definitely want to keep this New Year’s resolution going into Month 2 of 2021. (I also want to buy a Dutch oven.) In addition to it being a very fun and tasty experience, cooking for and with other people has a host of psychological benefits for couples, families, and individuals alike. Coming together with my partner, grocery shopping for new ingredients, chatting in the kitchen while the meal sizzles on the stove, making mistakes, and then watching the corresponding flick, brought me closer to what I was eating and the content I was watching. I felt a greater connection to it, and a deep appreciation for the food, for Quinn, for having the time to do this, for my sister’s Netflix subscription, etc.
Maybe I’m getting sentimental, but that is only because I am a very sentimental human being who just finished watching an emotional movie.