The Film: Les triplettes de Belleville [The Triplets of Belleville]
To paraphrase Brad Bird — animation is not a genre, it is a style of storytelling through which you can have every genre. And The Triplets of Belleville gives a great story in amazing style.
The retro feel throughout the film references styles of animation that have come before. The black and white film reel style is reminiscent of Max Fleischer with cameos from celebrities of a bygone era. Scenes in New York bring to mind Disney’s Oliver & Company. If Oliver was done by Roald Dahl, the French equivalent of Tim Burton, and Salvador Dali.
It is definitely not animation for children. There’s nothing graphic, nothing lewd except a brief moment of a dancing Josaphine Baker. It has a PG-13 rating for the bizarre world, characters who stretch a bit more than they should, feast on frogs, veins that stick out and bulge. The style is not for everyone but to me it felt like watching a person with a double jointed finger pull it back. Kind of gross but kind of cool.
Regardless of the animation I think the real treasure here is the story. I love all the layers of the story how easily the characters became worth rooting for with minimal dialog. It’s rare to say the best part of the film might have been all the things that were not said. If there were scenes to best highlight the reliance on film as a visual medium it would be very early in the film when the elderly Portuguese woman first takes in her young grandson. Those few quick scenes establish their bond and showcase the great power of animation.
The Food: Coconut Macaroon [from Brown Eyed Baker]
Very much like The Triplets of Belleville the idea for a macaroon started out in France and ended up in America. I considered doing the très popular macaron with filling, and I still might. But with all the horror stories out there, I figured tonight I’d rather enjoy a recipe with less risk. In came the North American macaroon.
I searched the internet and found two distinct styles. One with egg whites and one with condensed milk. I was torn so I searched again to see if anyone had written about the two styles. Indeed, someone had and my choice was made. Though, in future, I’d like to try other versions — I picked the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. (They were out of parchment paper at the store so I used the baking spray I had with flour which I think worked nicely.)
In a large bowl, stir together
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg white
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
Stir in until well blended
3½ cups sweetened flaked coconut
Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Form the cookies into loose haystacks with your fingertips, moistening your hands with water as necessary to prevent sticking. Bake, one sheet at a time, until the cookies are light golden brown, 15 to 2o minutes.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheets until slightly set, about 2 minutes; remove to a wire rack with a wide metal spatula.
I think they turned out very well. I made the first batch plain and then couldn’t resist adding more flavor. I had lemon extract to the second sheet and rosemary to the lemon dough. Then I dipped some in a coconut milk semi-sweet chocolate ganache and the rest in a coconut milk white chocolate ganache.
I made less than half of this amount, I just used it as a guideline to the ratios.:
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the coconut milk until bubbles just begin to appear around the edges and steam rises from the surface.
1 15-ounce can coconut milk (not lite varieties)
Pour the hot coconut milk over
16 ounces good quality chocolate, coarsely chopped
Let stand without stirring for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir the chocolate-coconut milk mixture until glossy and smooth (this will take about 2 minutes of gentle stirring). Add and stir until incorporated.
1/2 t. vanilla
Use warm or slightly cooled. Makes about 2 cups.
I dipped them in various ways to make it easier to tell the flavors apart. I think I might make more just so I can have a few plain. I enjoyed how simple this recipe was and how easy they were to bake. No fuss = repeat recipe. I can’t wait to try another version and play with more flavors.