Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno) is a 2006 allegorical fantasy film set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. The heroine of the tale is Ofelia, a young girl who often loses herself in the fairy tale world of her beloved books. After her mother marries Captain Vidal, Ofelia and her very pregnant mother are whisked into the world of The Captain and taken to a remote and ancient mill that serves as his outpost. The narcissistic, sadistic, fastidious, and tyrannical Captain is determined to see his son born in Spain while hunting the rebels into extinction.
Ofelia soon realizes there’s more to the woods around the mill and is summoned to an ancient labyrinth by a sprite. There she meets the faun who tasks her with three quests so she can prove her royal lineage as the long lost princess of a forgotten realm.
Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark tale full of monsters, dangers, and death. As an allegory, there is a plethora of symbolism but I will leave most of that to the academic study of the film.
It’s not hard to notice the symbolism of food in the film. Bread is featured in many shots and can represent life and basic sustenance. As the keeper of the bread, The Captain tries to control the masses. “One ration card per family,” he decrees as his soldiers recite propaganda and hand out “Franco’s Spanish daily bread.” The Captain’s dinner party where he makes this decree has him overseeing a feast of many meat dishes. The table is loaded.
Another heavy laden table is the the Pale Man’s banquet with blood-red foods like clove-studded ham, berry pie, gelatinous molds, currants, globe grapes, pomegranates and red wine.
Turnips make many appearances in the mill’s kitchen. This root vegetable along with the mandrake root that the faun gives to Ofelia reinforce the subterranean world that the princess Moanna (Ofelia) left and the world to which she will return.
As always, I watched this Food ‘n Flix feature with a pen in hand to list the food references. Although I have a catalog of food from Pan’s Labryinth, I felt that listing them would trivialize the film’s themes. I also could not allow myself to be inspired by the Pale Man’s table.
Instead, I present a simple Spanish tortilla.
Spanish Tortilla with Mushrooms and Kale
based on a NYT Recipe
- 6 T. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced (1 1/2 cups)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 c. diced onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced
- fresh thyme leaves (about 1 t.)
- 1/2 c. chopped kale, packed
- 6 large eggs, beaten
- pinch of cayenne, to taste
- Heat the 3 T. olive oil at medium low in 8- to 9-inch nonstick skillet. Add potatoes, spreading them in the pan, and cook 10 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. Do not let them brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add onions, garlic, and thyme and continue cooking, stirring from time to time, another 10 minutes or so, until mushrooms and onions have softened and potatoes are tender. Basically, you are poaching the potatoes and aromatics in the oil. Don’t let them brown. (If needed you can add more oil).
- After about ten minutes, drain the potato/onion mixture in a colander. (Oil can be saved to flavor another dish. Store reserved oil in refrigerator if doing this.) Place mixture in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
- Heat another tablespoon of oil in skillet. Add the mushrooms and kale and cook 5 minutes. Taste and check seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.
- Turn off heat and remove the vegetables to a bowl with the potato mixture. Fold in the eggs.
- Wipe out the pan, removing any clinging bits. Return pan to the stove on medium heat.
- Preheat oven broiler.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil. When oil is hot, add the egg/potato mixture. Reduce heat to medium low. Slide the pan back and forth to prevent the tortilla from sticking and run a spatula around the edges to loosen the eggs. When the eggs are nearly set on top, finish under the broiler for a minute or two, until very lightly browned.
- After tortilla is removed from the oven, you may see an excess of oil. Take a paper towel and run around the edges to collect some of the oil.
- Transfer to a platter, dust with cayenne and serve at once or set aside to serve warm. (This is not bad cold as leftovers, either.)
I wanted to present something earthy as I was struck with the faun’s first introduction of himself to Ofelia: “I am the mountain, the woods, and the earth.”
Mushrooms were the first thing that came to mind. Ofelia’s wardrobe throughout the film is one of earth tones and greens, hence the kale.
Thanks to Pretty Cake Machine for hosting this month. (I doubt I would have discovered this film without your recommendation.)
Please plan on joining Food ‘n Flix in March for the feature film The Martian hosted by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. Membership is open to anyone that wants to participate. For more information, click here.
I made this dish for Valentine’s Day and look at this lovely bottle of wine The Hubs brought home. I thought the label was appropriate.