Food in Films – My Big Fat Greek Wedding

I haven’t felt much like posting over the past few weeks. The ongoing coronavirus situation continues to scare me, even though I am doing all the recommended things the CDC has instructed: social distancing, frequently washing my hands, covering my cough, cleaning and disinfecting frequently-used items and surfaces, checking on elderly neighbors, and trying not to panic but instead be prepared. I have limited my reading of the news to the simple facts of new cases, what to expect from our Governor in terms of closures and service limitations, and I am cooking like a madwoman to feed my elderly neighbor who is blind, my grandmother who is 95 and in fragile health, and other family members who are also self-quarantined…..and to keep myself calm. I am also watching quite a lot of Netflix and Amazon Prime, and in fact, last night decided to rewatch a film I hadn’t seen in years and didn’t find terribly funny at the time – My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

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Well, hell. It’s hilarious! I don’t know what was wrong with me when I first saw it but on second viewing I literally snarfed wine as I watched the shenanigans of her loud, obnoxious, and loving Greek family. If you haven’t seen the film, the basic premise is this: Toula Portokalos is a frumpy, 30-year old woman living at home with her very traditional Greek family. Her father, Gus, is uber-proud of their Greek heritage, having their house painted in the blue-and-white colors of the Greek flag. He and his wife Maria own the Greek restaurant Dancing Zorba’s, where Toula works as a waitress. One day, she sees Ian Miller and falls for him, though she is so socially awkward that her attempts to talk to him fall somewhat flat. She soon starts to stretch her wings by taking computer classes, which in turn help her confidence to the point where she gets a haircut and a makeover, buys new clothes, and convinces her father to have her work at her Aunt Voula’s travel agency. She meets Ian again, they fall in love and he proposes. But…….no one in her Greek family has ever married a non-Greek, so bringing this outsider into the family has some complications.

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The fact that Gus goes around with a bottle of Windex claiming it as a cure-all for any and all health issues took me back to my great-grandfather Reymundo who fixed anything and everything with duct tape and baling wire, and my great-grandmother Antonia who sprinkled holy water on everything as her own cure-all. The scene where Toula’s brother and cousins keep teaching Ian inappropriate phrases in Greek knowing he doesn’t understand brought back memories of my own male cousins totally messing with one of my female cousins’s future husband. Aunt Voula’s horror at finding out Ian is a vegetarian brought back memories of me introducing a college friend (and vegan) to my grandmother and her offering him beans and chile – that were cooked with pork. 🙂

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I suppose part of the humor of this film is the familiarity. So many of us come from large, loud, “ethnic” (for lack of a better way to put it) families that are like this. My own paternal side of the family lived in what we call the “compound,” with three family houses next to one another on the same three family-owned acres and as kids, we’d run between all three, visiting our great-grandparents, our aunt and uncle and then back to our grandparent’s house. The familiarity of how the Portokalos family is portrayed was as comforting as it was funny, which is what we all need in this very nerve-wracking time. Comfort and humor go a long way toward calming and settling the soul.

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Possibly the funniest moment in a movie filled with laugh-out-loud moments is when Ian’s very reserved, Caucasian parents come to meet Toula’s parents – and the rest of their enormous Greek family – after the engagement, and Ian’s mother brings a Bundt cake. Maria and Gus have never seen a Bundt cake before, and the ensuing language culture clash is beyond funny!

Bundt

So of course I had to make a Bun-Bo-Bunk-Bonk-Bundt cake! I have my grandmother’s Bundt cake pan that she used to make all of our birthday cakes every year, and my favorite being her traditional rum cake with pecans and a sugar glaze, I decided to recreate that. DISCLAIMER: I am not one to EVER use a cake mix from a box, but in the spirit of tradition and comfort, I followed my Nana Jean’s recipe to the letter and it involved a yellow cake mix. (sigh) Don’t judge me.

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INGREDIENTS
1 box of yellow cake mix
1 packet vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup golden rum
1 generous cup chopped pecans

For the sugar glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden rum

METHOD
Heat the oven to 325F and spray your Bundt cake pan with baking spray.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, the pudding mix, the eggs, the oil, the rum, and the nuts.

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Pour into the Bundt pan and bake for an hour.

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Let the cake cool while you make the glaze. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add in the water and sugar, stirring constantly. Don’t leave it as the sugar burns very easily. Boil for about 5 minutes, stirring all the while, until it thickens, then add the rum.

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Drizzle over the Bundt cake.

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If you so happen to have one, garnish with a lovely potful of flowers! Just like Mama Maria!

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30 thoughts on “Food in Films – My Big Fat Greek Wedding

  1. Love this movie so much. It reminded me of my own family because I’m Russian and Arabic which always led to huge, loud family gatherings and tons of food. Baklava would’ve been my choice of food to make from the book, but the cake looks so delicious! Always love your posts, Vanessa. Hope you’re doing well. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that movie. We know it by heart. Another great food movie to watch, it’s an OLDIE, is Like Water for Chocolate. It is a Mexican movie about the passion of food. It is all in Spanish with subtitles, but it’s a great movie. Hang in there. Hopefully life will get back to normal very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like Water for Chocolate is one of my absolute favorite books and movies in the entire world! I hope things start getting back to some semblance of normality very soon. Take good care of yourself.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. You are so sweet to be looking out for elderly neighbors and family. My parents are locked down in their senior housing and I’m not allowed to see them. It’s the hardest change for me since I worry about them every day. And that movie is a riot. What a great diversion!
    Keep up the cooking and reading and stay safe. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my friend, and the same to you. I can only imagine the concern for your parents. Both mine have passed away and there’s a part of me that is so glad they are not having to experience this. Stay well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, no judgment here, not that I would ever use a cake mix, *sniff* but I do for Better than Sex Cake, which my Mom always called Better than Robert Redford Cake!!

    I didn’t find this movie amusing the first time, either. I didn’t like Fargo the first time I watched, either. With both, I laughed my a** off the second time. The same with several other movies whose title I will think of at 3:23 am.

    I always enjoy hearing about your family! There are only 3 of us (I always felt we were looked at with suspicion in our small Irish Catholic town) and in consequence, I always wanted a large family! I only have two children; after my divorce, I was just never able to find a willing victim…um…I mean husband!

    I noticed your nice offers on FB! I’ve made a few offers, but so far, no bites…garhh! Couldn’t help myself!!

    Stay safe, girl!!

    Mollie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ciao Veronica
    i wrote 2 blog posts about the coronavirus situation in Italy and everywhere in the last few weeks and it has sucked out all of my energy. Had to be done though -I’m a health care professional and felt i had to spread actual facts. Thank you for reminding me how much i loved this movie. i remember practically peeing myself from laughing when Mamma Maria puts a flowerpot in the middle of the bundt cake! i will have to watch it on Netflix tonight. Stay safe! Ciao, Cristina

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! It actually is quite delicious and I am giving 95% of it away because if it stays here, I’ll eat the whole damn thing. I don’t even have a sweet tooth, but it’s so moist and tasty and quite alcoholic, so total comfort food right now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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