The Film: The Dish – Australia
When most people think about foreign films they forget they’re not all subtitled — some of them are in English. Although accents and colloquialisms can be a hindrance to some, movies from the UK and Australia are great gateways into the culture of foreign film.
The Dish, for instance, is both a look into the mindset of another culture and the history of America.
The first thing to mention before talking about the story is that it is a fictionalized account of events. The Parkes Observatory, a radio telescope observatory near the town of Parkes in Australia, was one of several radio antennas used to receive live, televised images of the Apollo 11 moon landing on the 20th of July, 1969. This is a fact.
I don’t know what else is factually derived, but it’s such an entertaining movie I really wasn’t bothered. There’s nothing that takes away from history or adds to it any deep social commentary about cultures or countries — it’s just a great story.
Of course, like every Australian film I cherish, the characters are the heart of the story. It’s grounded by Sam Neill, as the leader at the dish, and Mayor Robert ‘Bob’ McIntyre the man in charge of it all. These characters, are why I love Australian cinema. They’re not similar to each other but they both exude that quality that is often lacking in the males of American cinema. They have an ability to be masculine but sensitive, strong but endearing, and smart but funny. They’re slightly exaggerated versions of real people, not quirky aging hipsters engaged in trivial pursuits.
Even in the middle of a sheep paddock, there is plenty of room for a few genuinely deep moments about community and who we are in the span of the universe but the humor and wit really bring a lightness. The comedic timing and throwback atmosphere of clothing and attitudes, is really fun.
The level of maturity in the writing and directing makes this film enjoyable for everyone. It’s the kind of sweet and smart film we haven’t had enough of recently, but I remember watching even when I was younger. A good story with every detail well attended to, layers of character, funny scenes — just some great filmmaking.
As a bonus, if you’re into the Apollo landing this is a film for you. The moment when the world came together to watch history happen, seen from a unique perspective. The Dish is easy to watch and puts a smile on my face every time.
Holiday Spirit: +3
The Food: Sweet Potato Roti
I think the trick is to play with it a little. The mixture of wet and dry ingredients will vary for everyone — but don’t worry! Take it slow and they’ll turn out soft, with a good consistency to pick up curry if you’re eating with your hands, and delicate tasting but filling. Sounds good, right?
The important thing is to have enough sweet potato to make the amount of roti you want. I recommend you make extra sweet potato, just store the rest in the fridge.
Don’t worry about the whole wheat flour either, it’s really good. If you don’t have the cardamom, that’s fine. Obviously, this is a pretty malleable recipe.
Here is the original recipe, pictures of each step included, from Chef In You. These are the ratios I used, but I’m sure yours will differ.
- 1 1/4 cup cooked sweet potato
- About 2 cups of whole wheat flour
- 3 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Once you have cooked sweet potato, it’s really just a matter of mixing all the ingredients into a soft dough.
I incorporated the sweet potato using a spoon at first but then I poured it onto my counter and kneaded it together. I had to add flour from the original 1 cup I started with so I suggest you add a cup and a half and then more as you knead it. If it’s sticky, add more flour.
You don’t want it to crumble, you want a soft, creamy texture. Divide the ball into portions. I made smaller balls, about 3 inches each.
Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll them thin.
Fry in hot oil or butter until each side is browned. Make sure your pan is not burning, but still plenty hot. Otherwise they’ll absorb too much oil.
I highly recommend you serve these with an Indian curry but you could also make them into a quesadilla, a fish taco, an accompaniment to a dessert — be creative. Eat and enjoy!
Holiday Spirit: +3