Banquets and Donkey Skin

Sunday, March 27th, 2005 | Film, Food, Friends

Nick and Su-Chen whipped up a royal feast last night at Nick and Jeff’s loft in Oakland. I didn’t realize that there were going to be eight courses. I was pretty full after the second, but the flavors were so delightful, I yielded to dish after dish, and did my best to not explode. The courses began with a cucumber and marinated pork appetizer, then crisp asparagus in a light soy sauce, crab cakes served over an Asian version of succotash, whole shrimp, cooked quickly over a hot flame in a ginger garlic pepper sauce, salmon cooked in miso with cucumbers again and toasted sesame seeds, anise-flavored pork with bok choy, a light broth with tofu and tomatoes, and then a kind-of flan for dessert. A lot of the local Hairy Bodies alumni were present, including Big Chrissy, Dean the model and Dean the artist, and his charming BF Doug, and Ruth and her hubby, John. As soon as we realized that John had helped design the G4 titanium laptop we all squirmed our way onto his discount waiting list. I felt compelled to give him a little grief about the hinges. A full course or two was spent talking about heat sinks. The dishes stopped coming around midnight, and after a few games of pool, where Dean won every game by default, we toddled home, fat shadows of our former selves.

Today I saw Jacques Demy’s Donkey Skin, with Catherine Deneuve and Jean Marais, from 1970. The totally delightful fairy tale opens with Queen Catherine Deneuve on her deathbed, forcing King Jean Marais (Bête of Beauty and the Beast) to promise to wed only someone prettier than she to secure a male heir to the throne after she dies. Well, wouldn’t you know it, but the only girl prettier than the queen is her daughter, also played by Catherine Deneuve, so after her death, the King decides to marry her! The fairy godmother intervenes and disguises Princess Catherine in the skin of a donkey (that pooped gems), and whisks her away to another kingdom, where she eventually is found by the local Prince, after baking him a “love” cake and slipping her tiny ring into the batter, a ring so tiny that it will only fit on her slender finger. Borrowing from Cinderella, the Prince assembles all the bachelorettes in the kingdom to try on the ring, lining them up in order from Princess to “unemployed,” and eventually on down to our girl with the donkey skin. Following their wedding, King Marais shows up in a helicopter with his new bride, yes, you guessed it, the Fairy Godmother, and everything’s great.

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