Friday, October 29, 2021

Food for Fright-Night: The B-Movie Cookbook

It’s almost Halloween, and time to ask What’s Cooking? My experts, of course, are Fiona Young-Brown and her hubby, Nic Brown. I first met Fiona at a serious writers’ conference in New York City; little did I know then that I’d eventually end up as a guest on Nic’s long-running B-Movie Cast, talking about Roger Corman flicks like Big Bad Mama and Grand Theft Auto.     

   Fiona is from England, and Nic hails from Kentucky, so of course they met while teaching English in Japan, before eventually  making their home in the  Bluegrass State. Fiona’s writing specialties include food and travel (she’s the author of Wicked Lexington) as well as science, and Nic devotes as much time as he can to his passion for vintage horror movies and other cheapie cinematic delights. Which is why he was a natural to join with the late Vince Rotolo in hosting a B-movie podcast that’s been on the air since 2006. (Vince’s wife Mary now joins Nic in capably anchoring new broadcasts.)

 Given Nic and Fiona’s varied enthusiasms, it’s no surprise that they have launched a series of B-movie cookbooks. Their first celebrated the Fifties, pairing drive-in favorites like Godzilla and Creature from the Black Lagoon with appropriate recipes. I’ve just finished reading the sequel, which is titled The B-Movie Cookbook: The Sixties. This slim, colorfully illustrated volume features 12 B-movie classics from the decade, everything from The Brain that Wouldn’t Die to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Nic engagingly summarizes the plot of each film and adds quirky production details, after which Fiona comes up with simple but enticing recipes guaranteed to make your home film screening complete. Halloween, of course, is one of the Browns’ best-loved holidays, which is why creepy films suitable for October 31 inspire some of their finest efforts. For George Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead, Fiona salutes the Polish community of Pittsburgh, where the film was famously made, with a serious recipe for Pierogies. But she also gets creative in suggesting the blood-and-guts aspect of this zombie classic. Apparently the actors playing the zombies in fact feasted on-screen not on actual human flesh but on a concoction of roast ham and chocolate syrup. Fiona takes mercy on her readers, sharing with them instead a Mexican-inspired recipe for Pulled Pork with Chocolate Mole (delicious but decidedly scary-looking). And for dessert she offers White Chocolate Mousse Brain with Strawberry Sauce. If yours comes out looking like the photos in the book, it will definitely give a shiver to your partygoing friends.

 Much space is devoted to Spider Baby, the 1967 creep-fest by Roger Corman alumnus Jack Hill about a family with weird inclinations. That’s partly because Fiona and Nic have located the film’s star, Beverly Washburn, who shares her on-set memories as well as some of her own family taste treats. But I particularly like Fiona’s culinary suggestions for this vastly bizarre film. The book informs us “there is a memorable dining scene in the movie featuring weeds, mushrooms, and an unfortunate cat. Sparing those, we’ve instead opted for some spider novelties and mushroom cookies.”  I love the photo of the Spider Leg Breadsticks perched eerily on a bowl of queso dip. And Spider Cupcakes are wonderfully cute. Serve those alongside your White Chocolate Mousse Brain for an unforgettable Halloween treat.

 But, hey – why are no Roger Corman movies included by the Browns?  I’d love to see recipe suggestions for such Sixties classics as  X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes and The Masque of the Red Death. Perchance there’s a Corman cookbook in the offing?

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