Annie Hall: An Indoor Lobster bake
"Annie, there's a big lobster behind
the refrigerator. I can't get it out. Maybe if I put a
little dish of butter sauce here with a
nutcracker, it will run out the other
Food is at the heart of Woody Allen's romantic, profound, comedy, Annie Hall. How many love stories explain the meaning of life in terms of food. Remember the joke from Woody's monologue:
"Boy the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions." Well, that's essentially how I feel about life - full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly."
There are so many great food moments in the Annie Hall. Great, because they are so often funny and profoundly illuminating at the same time. There's the hilarious Easter ham dinner where Woody imagines Grammy Hall seeing him as an Orthodox Jew, complete with Tevya-like long beard and peyas.
Then there's the moment when Annie shows off her Midwestern roots when she orders "corned beef on white bread with, uh, mayonnaise and tomatoes and lettuce."
We could have done a breakfast meal with eggs based on the last lines of the film when. Woody says: I thought of that old joke, you know, this-this-this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy. He thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" And the guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs."
But, there is no deeper, funnier, use of food to develop plot and character in the movie than the lobster dinner that Woody and Annie are preparing at the shore. Food becomes a metaphor for their relationship. Like Annie, the lobster is traif, frightening and wonderful at the same time. The spontaneous adventure (and good humor) he and Annie share trying to make a lobster bake is exactly what is missing when he tries to replicate the dinner with another woman later in the film.
So let's toast to Woody and Annie and the joy they found in food, and each other, by recreating their meal for people we love.
We'll follow Woody & Annie's lead and cook our lobster bake indoors.
Traditional lobster bakes (or, as they are often called, clam bakes) are prepared over an outdoor fire pit. Nice, but not practical for most of us. Even Woody and Annie, who were out in the Hampton's, decided to cook their lobster indoors.
If you look carefully at this picture you'll see that Woody is using a two piece lobster pot. The top portion is where most of the food is places (including the live lobster), the bottom holds the liquid that is used in steaming the dinner. Note the spigot on the lower portion of the pot. This is to facilitate serving of the broth. You can make tonight's dinner in any large pot with a steamer, but the two piece lobster pots make the job easier!
There are many variations on the lobster bake. Most have, in addition to the lobster, corn, sausage, and clams. Others include chicken pieces, potatoes, and more vegetables.
It also helps if you have the accoutrements for serving lobster. You'll want a couple of nutcrackers to break the claws, and small lobster forks help get the meat out of the shell. Many specialty stores also serve lobster bibs, which are not only functional, but lend a giggle to the whole adventure that is this meal. For dessert, keep things cool with berries and fresh whipped cream.
For dessert, keep things cool with berries and fresh whipped cream or a fruit tart.