Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Treasure of the Sierra Madre

"Say, mister. Will you stake a fellow American to a meal?"

There are many reasons to love Treasure of the Sierra Madre; that its first line is about food secures it a place at our table. Much of what is to come in this film is foreshadowed in this seemingly innocuous sentence.

We learn a lot: Bogart's character is pegged as a down-on-his-luck-south-of-the-border-American with a hunger, not just for food, but for gold. He might just as well have said: "Buddy, can you spare a dime".

The use of the word "stake" has multiple nuances: Bogart's not looking for an investor to loan or "stake" him money. He's pan-handling. But, the word also, almost subliminally, get's us thinking about claiming a "stake" in a goldmine.

Finally, the first-line of Huston's script uses "stake" as a homonym to ironically resonate with "steak" in the context of a "bum" looking for a hand-out for a meal.

It is easy to dismiss Treasure of the Sierra Madre as a "mere" adventure film, but it is a well crafted story which gives careful attention to language and character development.

"Hey you fellas, how 'bout some beans? You want some beans? Goin' through some mighty rough country tomorrow, you'd better have some beans."

We could have used Walter Huston's line from Treasure of the Sierra Madre to set a bean theme for tonight's dinner, but we already did that for Blazing Saddles. Let's look a little deeper for culinary inspiration...

"Badges!? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!!"

This line, honored by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 film quotes of all time, has become associated with one of the worst ethnic film stereotypes: the Mexican Bandito. The line has been borrowed and quoted in dozens of films and tv shows, but even where it is parodied, it subliminally reinforces a cultural cliche.

Mexican food is also often stereotyped. Fast food chains and salsa companies have contributed to the idea that culinary artistry and Mexican food have little in common.

So, let's create meals that shatter those notions. Here are two main courses that are easy to prepare that won't resemble anything you can find at Taco Bell.

Edible Mexican Treasures....

GuacamoleOur authentic Guacamole made of chunks of ripe avocados, cilantro, chiles, onion, and lemon starts our meal with a very festive look.
Chicken in Cilantro-Poblano Cream SauceI've selected two main course to go with this meal. You can prepare either one, or serve both for a larger party. Shown here is a family favorite, Boneless Chicken Breasts in a Cilantro-Poblano cream sauce topped with cheddar cheese. It is a great casserole perfect for colder weather.
Duck in Tomatillo SauceDuring grilling weather, I like to cook duck or steak outdoors and serve it on a tortilla topped with fresh tomatillo sauce. (You can also cook the meat indoors under the broiler). Either dish goes well with Mexican Rice & Corn.

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