Friday, October 22, 2010


Bitter, boorish root
Touched by salt's complaisant hand
Seems a softer thing.
So a couple days ago, film school made me depressed for the first time.  There's no real cause for alarm -- my classes have been great, my first project's on track to shoot this weekend, and despite what they say about film school, I've still found time to have a little outside life (!) here and there.  It's just that we watched The Deer Hunter, and I'd never seen it before, and there were a couple scenes I couldn't quite get through without tears streaming down my face.

It sounds a little artsy and exclusionary, but I've really been learning how to watch films these past few weeks, and that's had a considerable influence on how I connect to them as an audience member.  The Deer Hunter is intense and distressing in and of itself, so for me, watching and connecting to it was an overwhelming experience that lingered on way past the ending credits.  It didn't help that when we got out of the screening room, it was still gray and rainy, like the afflictive rain of the movie's Vietnam.  We missed lunch.  I was completely drained.  I thought for sure I'd go the rest of the day in a disconsolate stupor.

But at the end of the day, I went home to rehearse with my actors, and just getting to know them and their characters made me feel better.  Best of all, though, going home meant getting to spend time with my parents.  I haven't done that in a while -- been together with loved ones in a warm place for the evening.  My mom hung out in my room as I prepped it for this weekend's shoot.  We talked about The Deer Hunter; she'd seen it before, but couldn't remember much about it except that it had "the man with the thing on his face" (that's Robert De Niro).  I laughed a lot.  By the time I went back to my apartment, I wasn't shell-shocked at all; I'd just seen a really good, impactful movie, and I was psyched to be making my own.

The study of film can be a painful, hard, exhausting thing.  But when tempered by restorative elements, it can be wonderful -- a reminder that our movies speak to others, a technical example, an artistic inspiration.  And I know it's a stretch, but radishes are the same way.  Pretty on the surface.  Kind of peppery.  Kind of bitter.  Kind of plain.  Not quite worth the effort of picking and scrubbing and slicing unless placed in the right context.

There's a simple, traditional way of preparing raw radishes, which is to slice them up, put them on generously buttered French bread, and sprinkle them with sea salt.  I wanted something healthy, and I didn't have French bread on hand, so I used red pepper hummus and toast instead.  The resultant flavors and textures -- creamy, crunchy, peppery, fresh-and-salty-radish-y -- played off each other in a happy way, and were a real testament to how salt brings out the best in ugly-duckling foods.

Radish-Hummus Sandwiches
inspired by the traditional French preparation

  • 1 bunch/bag organic radishes
  • 1 container red pepper hummus
  • sliced bread (I used multigrain sandwich bread)
  • coarse sea salt
  • black pepper


Wash the radishes, cut into thin slices, and sprinkle with sea salt, letting sit to absorb the flavor.  Toast the bread.  Spread as much hummus as you'd like on the toast.  Arrange the radishes on top.  Sprinkle with black pepper.

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