Kate has been telling me for ages that I must see Big Night, and finally, I’ve seen it. (And loved it.) It’s a sweet foodie movie about two Italian brothers running a restaurant, one back of the house, the other front. Primo, the chef, is heartbroken by the general American ignorance of real Italian food; he and Segundo’s restaurant on the brink of ruin while the glitzy spaghetti and meatballs, fake opera singer joint across the way flourishes. An opportunity for them to save the restaurant with a famous customer throws the two into preparations for the ‘big night,’ the namesake feast. They have a dreamy kitchen, high and open with a grand stove and butcher’s block at its center, copper pots dangling and clanging overhead, salamis hanging from the walls, baskets by the door overflowing with fresh leafy produce. The day leading up to the big night, the kitchen is full of helpers, chopping and stirring and sauteing with great anticipation. Flour and eggs and oil are transformed into smooth sheets of pasta, tomatoes turn into simmering sauces, a majestic timpano is carefully crafted. The big night itself is a ridiculous feast, the table a temple to food, its worshipers swooning with bliss by the last course. I’ll leave the rest out, so you all will have to watch it for yourselves. (And brace yourself for the perfect loveliness of the last scene. Might have squeaked out a few tiny tears.)

And of course you can’t watch this movie without jonesing for Italian food. And that combined with homesickness resulted in a deep, real need for meatballs. (My mom makes the best meatballs on earth, if you weren’t aware. Coming home to momma meatballs is perhaps one of the best feelings ever.) And then combine that with an aversion to reading The Aeneid, and you get caramelized fennel and onion, focaccia-crumb veal balls. Veal was the same price as pork at le Whole Foods, and fancy food gives me joy, so. Really good meatballs resulted. Patiently caramelize fennel and onion while watching 30 Rock, dry out focaccia in toaster oven, combine all with egg and oregano. Reflect on the sweetness of Big Night. Enjoy.

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