Lured by the idea of a cheap night out, Natasha and I went to the 3rd Annual New York Food Film Festival last tuesday. Free admission, free mutton barbecue and cornbread, and a string of short films about food all selected, as the MC pointed out, to entertain rather than lecture. We laughed, we clapped, we text-voted, we ate barbecue, and we froze our butts off on the water taxi beach in Long Island City. (I for one refuse to give up my seasonally appropriate outdoor pursuits in the face of this ark-buildingly wet abomination of a summer.)
There was one educational note for me: I’d never had native wild ‘rice’ before, and the team behind “The Sacred Food” handed round samples; it was delicately delicious, with none of the husky, chewy texture I associate with the genre. It’s under threat as a natural resource from ‘improvement’ measures (eye roll), so watch the film and then buy some from the people fighting to protect it.
“The Sacred Food” by Jack Pettibone Riccobono (dur: 6 mins)
On the flip side, I’m guessing from what I overheard around me that the mutton was a new experience for many others. If the Dynamic Duo of Jamie Oliver and Prince Charles (ye gods) have their way back home, it’ll be the Next Big Thing – that is, as far as the Brits are concerned, in the category of “everything old is new again”. According to my favorite film of the night, “Mutton The Movie”, mutton in America is pretty much the geo-specific preserve of northern Kentucky church barbecues and their tourist-luring spinoff festivals; we ate as many portions as we could get away with, which, thanks to the nice relaxed people dishing it out for RUB. was a lot. It was delicious, and if you want to explore further, why not have a look at His Royal Highness’s helpful hints on the Mutton Renaissance web page. Also, talk to your friends from India, Pakistan, Morocco, Egypt, the (ahem) Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region… you get the picture.
“Mutton The Movie” by Joe York and Matthew Graves (dur: 17 mins)
There was also a hilarious animated short called “The Food Hypnotist” by Orrin and Jerry Zucker; it’s not viewable online, sadly, but their website is here.