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Movies and Real Food: Babette’s Feast

February 25, 2011

A great movie from the eighties, about food, about different lifestyles, about acceptance.

You can watch the whole movie on youtube here.

The story takes place in 19th century Denmark on the barren coastal region of Jutland. Two puritanical protestant sisters age in the shadow of their minister father, taking care of the community. After some time they take on a French woman refugee, Babette, as a servant. Never mentioning anything about her background Babette takes on the task of cooking for the sisters and villagers, improving on their cuisine. The whole movie leads up to the final feast, which Babette makes from some surprise earnings from a lottery, which she doesn’t use to leave the community as everyone expected, where she reveals that she was  the celebrated chef from the Parisian Café anglais.

There are many sites showing the menu and recipes for the feast which consisted of:

Potage a’la Tortue
(Turtle Soup)
Blini Demidoff au Caviar
(Buckwheat cakes with caviar)
Caille en Sarcophage avec Sauce Perigourdine
(Quail in Puff Pastry Shell with Foie Gras and Truffle Sauce)
La Salade
(Salad Course)
Les Fromages
(Cheese and Fresh Fruit)
Baba au Rhum avec les Figues
(Rum Cake with Dried Figs)

But my question was more what they were eating before.
No sites on this.

When Babette was trying to cook up the sister’s meals the sisters were constantly reminding her to:

“Let it soak.” very much in line with the Weston A. Price and Nourishing Traditions line of thinking where everything from grains to nuts and vegetables are ‘to soak’.

But what exactly were they making?

Surely some of the soaking was for cod, of which we see salted drying in the sun at the beginning of the movie.

But there is also some sort of ale-bread soak which resemble gravy.

The recipe seems to consist of soaking the dried fish, boiling it in water, then soaked stale bread is added with beer until if forms a stew.

A quick search reveals this dish to be the traditional Danish Øllebrød: a porridge made of soaked stale bread and dark ale.

Normally I like to try and cook up what I see in movies, for this one I will pass for now.

This post is being shared at Monday Mania

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