I lean in but then I check right out.
I don't flinch because it doesn't hurt.
What is god if there's no one there.
And there's no proof
That you ever cared
There's very little food in this episode - but it's sweet, sour, bitter and salty -- there's a lot to digest.
It's Laura's backstory and with it's unfolding comes the realization that she's an asshole but we actually are rooting for her. Even as she reveals herself to be an unfeeling self-centred willful person, we go along with her just like Audrey, her betrayed BFF. Seeing their relationship gives us a bit of insight into why and how we tolerate - even love - people who seem incapable of reciprocating.
And how we hope that love will be her redemption even as we know that the gods are powerful and her fate has been sealed by Anubis.
Or has it?
|Anubis frequently appears as a dog.|
More Godsplaining: Anubis
Anubis is the Egyptian God of the Underworld. Ancient Egyptians believed he ushered the dead to their afterlife decided by the weight their deeds as measured against a feather. As the God of Embalming, Anubis was a very important deity and his sombre dog-faced image can be seen on the walls of burial chambers and on artifacts retrieved from tombs deep in the pyramids.
For more on the Egyptian mythology of Anubis, see my Godsplaining in Episode 103. (scroll way down to previous episodes or click this link: http://janicepoonart.blogspot.ca/2017/05/american-gods-ep103-head-full-of-snow.html)
On a lighter note, here's a sartorial look at Anubis because sometimes fashion is more fun than my pedantic history rantings. From his pin-tucked shirt to his flowing robes, all of Anubis' clothes feature fine pleating as befits one who meticulously measures good and bad.
We shot Anubis' climb to Judgement with Mrs Fadil one l-o-n-g summer day only to find the costume department had dressed Chris Obi in the wrong version of Anubis' robe. We had to reshoot the whole thing because the robes have their own important story to tell.
|Details from Costume Designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb's Anubis images courtesy Starz|
For more from fashion-watchers Tom and Lorenzo, check their blog for a closer look at the costuming of American Gods.
Laura and Shadow's backstory
This would be a tender love story except for the blood spray and severed limbs. The two lovers are both seeking to fill their emptiness but they don't know what. They are yin and yang: Shadow questions nothing and Laura questions everything. Shadow accepts and Laura rejects. She even rejects her destiny as Anubis attempts to guide her to her bleak afterlife with a terse condemnation: "You believe in nothing - therefore you will spend an eternity in nothingness".
To describe Laura's ennui, Brian Reitzell composed Queen of the Bored and it's sung in this episode by Garbage's Shirley Manson who captures Laura's mood perfectly.
In the script, Laura drinks pots of wine and eats pies whole to show her growing ennui. In the edited episode, we get but a brief glance of pie as preparations are made for Shadow's welcome home party. But there is a constant presence of flies and fly spray so I couldn't resist the opportunity to give you a recipe for Shoo-Fly Pie.
At last, we eat!
|An American Heritage pie from 1800s Amish Dutch Pennsylvania: Shoo-Fly Pie You can't tell b/c my photography is so shitty but the bottom layer is gooey and the top part is cakey.|
A half-cake, half sugar-pie concoction that could only have been born in a place that had neither fruit nor cream, Shoo Fly Pie is nevertheless a fascinating slice of Amish-American history and worth a try! Best served warm with great lashings of barely sweetened whipped cream. Use medium or light molasses as you may find blackstrap molasses a bit too strong. Or use corn syrup instead of molasses, add pecans and a drizzle of chocolate on top if you want.
One unbaked 9" pie shell
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter cut in 1/2" cubes
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup cold water
2 eggs, beaten slightly
1 cup molasses
1 In a food processor or in a mixing bowl using a pastry cutter, combine flour, brown sugar, salt and butter. Process only until butter is cut into small oatmeal-sized bits and mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
2 In a small mixing bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water then add molasses and stir until blended. Add eggs and beat together. Add cold water and stir until blended. Add half of the flour mixture, stir just enough to blend ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell. Top with the remaining flour mixture and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool pie completely before cutting to allow the egg-molasses layer on the bottom to firm up.
The food in the scene between Wednesday and Shadow was actually take-away from a nearby restaurant. I couldn't prepare the food for this scene (would have done Rainbow Chopped in Crystal Fold to represent Sweeney's pot of gold) because I was fully engaged in doing a massive food scene for Episode 108. So I'm giving you some recipes for old-fashioned small-town inauthentic American-Chinese Take-out that you can snack on as Wednesday lectures Shadow in a small-town old-fashioned American-Chinese cafe.
Sweet and Sour Spareribs
1 lb pork ribs cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
1 Tbsp cooked corn oil
1 Tbsp cornstarch for dusting
oil for deep-frying
1 Place rib pieces in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with soy sauce, garlic powder, 5-spice and oil. Toss well to coat ribs in seasonings and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Just before cooking, sprinkle on cornstarch and toss to coat all rib pieces completely. Sprinkle on more cornstarch if necessary.
2 Heat 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees over medium-high heat in a heavy pot or very deep heavy pan. Gently drop 8 to 10 pieces in the oil, separating them with a heat-resistant slotted spoon so they don't stick together. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes and remove. Check to see if meat has cooked through and adjust timing accordingly. Repeat until all ribs have been cooked. They can be salted and served dry but for the old authentic inauthenticity, a good soak in Sweet and Sour Sauce is essential!
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 cps water
2 tsp mashed ginger
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped bread-and-butter pickles
1/4 cup pickle juice
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water
1 Combine cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl and stir to make a slurry. Set aside.
2 Combine all other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. While stirring the pot constantly, slowly drizzle in the cornstarch slurry. It will thicken quickly as it boils. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the ribs cooked as above and simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes. Serve with Fried Rice.
Easy Peasy Fried Rice
2 tsp oil
1/4 small onion, chopped
2 cups cooked rice
3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted in boiling water and drained
1/2 tomato diced
1/2 tsp soy sauce
chopped lettuce for garnish
1 In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat and add onion. Stir quickly to brown slightly. Add peas and rice and stir to heat. Sprinkle on soy sauce and toss to coat completely. Continue stirring until rice has heated through completely. Add chopped tomatoes, stir just to mix, not cooking the tomatoes. Serve on a bed of chopped lettuce.
Fortune cookies, which are not at all Chinese but were invented in California by a Japanese baker, are now made in factories using a press but you can make them by hand at home. Home-made, they are way more delicious and you get to make up the fortunes. Practice the folding with a circle cut from paper. It's quite simple once you get the hang of it. The really fun bit is making up the fortunes with your guests in mind. Hehehe.
3/4 cups sugar
3/8 cups egg whites
1/2 cup melted salted butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
12 small strips of paper printed with fortunes or messages
1 In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and egg whites and stir until sugar dissolves. Add butter and vanilla, stirring to blend. Add Flour and stir to blend completely.
2 Lightly butter a cookie sheet and on one half, using an offset spatula, spread 1 tbsp of batter into a 3-inch circle. Repeat on the other half and bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until edges start to brown. Let cool for 1 minute until cookie is cool enough to handle but still supple. Place one fortune on each circle and fold (see diagram) to enclose fortune. You can prop cookie in a muffin cup to harden as it cools. Wear rubber gloves while folding if cookie is too hot to handle. If cookie gets brittle before you have a chance to fold it, place it back in the oven for 2 minutes to re-soften. Repeat until batter is used.
Next time:Episode 5, Lemon-scented You. I won't be able to post Ep 105 and Ep 106 until I get back from the Split Screen Festival of Television Arts where I'll be on a panel discussing Hannibal's influence on art and culture with Raul Esparza (Chilton in Hannibal) plus several prominent New York artists. Bryan Fuller will be Skyping in and discussing American Gods as well as Hannibal 4.
Join us in New York at the IFC Centre if you can on June 8!