Stranger Than Fiction is one of my favorite films of all time. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say it’s tied for first with Amelie, Beverly Hills Cop, and Casablanca. I’m being serious. So if you say that you don’t like this movie, I’m not sure we can be friends. My point? It’s great if you have an opinion and all, but if it ain’t in support of this movie…keep it to yourself.
Why am I willing to risk the possibility of our could-be amazing friendship for the sake of a movie? Because Stranger Than Fiction is an incredibly perfect combination of several things about which I am passionate: sassy Maggie Gyllenhaal, serious Will Ferrell, eccentric writers, delightful motion graphics, and baked goods.
Stranger Than Fiction is more about the line between the real world and the fictional one, and what happens when the two merge together than food, but that’s not to say it doesn’t appreciate the culinary arts. The film follows Will Ferrell as a morose IRS official who one day realizes that his life is being narrated by a mysterious voice ( Emma Thompson) who seems to know everything about him. I won’t give any more away because I think part of the joy of this film is unraveling it, but I can promise you that it will be a rewarding experience. The scene that I’ve included at the top of this post is one of my favorites, and I credit it with being one of the earliest influences of my writing style and my desire to have a bakery. And to love all Gyllenhaals.
Click on the names of these films if Stranger Than Fiction doesn’t do it for you…
Jiro Dreams of Sushi– beautiful, inspiring documentary about a Michelin 3-star rated, 85 year old sushi chef (available for streaming on Netflix!)
Kings of Pastry – documentary about competitive pastry chefs, food porn to the max (available for streaming on Netflix!)
Ratatouille – a Pixar film featuring a rat who becomes a gourmet chef; this film won the Academy Award for Best Animated feature and has a great soundtrack to boot
Big Night – the brainchild of actor and gourmet foodie Stanley Tucci, this film tells the story of two brothers struggling to save their Italian restaurant
Waitress – a heartfelt story about a pregnant waitress with a powerful penchant for pies and creative names
Pressure Cooker– inner city kids compete in this documentary for culinary scholarships that could change their lives (available for streaming on Netflix!)
Romantics Anonymous – two hopeless romantics unexpectedly fall in love while working in a chocolate factory in this lovely French film (available for streaming on Netflix!)
In high school I had a terrifying drama teacher. Every time I had to go to class my stomach was in knots. Considering I had drama class four times a week, this became rather unpleasant. A friend recommended that I eat a banana before class to calm my nerves. The first time she did so I pulled out a banana—which I happened to have on hand—and scarfed it down so that I wouldn’t be late to class. Whether or not it actually helped in the moment, I’m not sure. But it turns out that bananas, by virtue of their high potassium content, can help with anxiety. Inspired by 9th grade Drama I, I present the many benefits of potassium:
What is it?
Potassium is an important mineral for multiple bodily functions. It helps build both proteins and muscle, and helps your body break down carbohydrates, which give you energy. Bread and pasta are good for something—they just need a little help along the way. This mineral also counteracts some of the negative affects of sodium, helping to maintain blood pressure, and also helps maintain a mineral balance in the body. Low levels of potassium can also caused increased anxiety, so adding more to your diet may make the semester a bit smoother.
How much do I need?
Most adults need about 4.7 grams of potassium a day. It’s estimated that most of us probably get about half of that right now.
How do I get it?
Not to worry, though—potassium may be lacking in many of our diets, but it is not hard to come by. Many fruits and vegetables contain a good amount of potassium, as well as dairy products and some meats. Bananas are very often associated with potassium, and for good reason as a medium banana has about 450 mg of potassium. A peanut butter and sliced banana sandwich drizzled with honey is not only extremely comforting but also packed with nutrients. A cup of spinach and a baked potato both pack over 800 mg of potassium, so either of these will quickly get you closer to the daily goal. Interestingly, some fruits, such as apricots, have more potassium when sun-dried than when fresh. In honor of potassium and Jack Johnson, here’s a recipe for banana pancakes to try:
1 cup all-purpose flower
1 tbsp. white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil, and bananas
Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Pour or scoop batter onto the griddle. Cook each pancake until golden brown on both sides.