I grew up watching the film Moonstruck over and over and over again. The sense of romance, of the adventure of being set in New York City – a city which has fascinated me since I was a very small girl – the hilariousness of the characters and that overall sense of family all combined to create a film that has well stood the test of time. I just love this movie, so much in fact that I wore out two VHS tapes of it in the mid 1980s and early 1990s and have gone through two DVD Blue-Ray discs of it as well. As you might suspect, I know the entire movie by heart, literally line by line, and for that reason, people refuse to watch it with me because, as my sister put it one time “You annoy the shit out of people quoting along with it!” Well excusez-moi! 🙂
Anyway, if you haven’t seen this marvelous film, it stars Cher as Loretta Castorini, a 38-year old frumpy widow who has accepted that she will never love again after the untimely death of her first husband. She is content to date the very boring Johnny Cammareri, who has just proposed to her in one of the film’s opening scenes. She accepts, knowing that she doesn’t really love him, and this is hilariously brought home when she tells her parents Cosmo and Rose – your typical Italian parents – and her father’s first reaction is horror and her mother’s reaction is “Do you love him?” Loretta responds “No” and her mother says :Good. When you love them, they drive you crazy, because they know they can.” And it’s true! When you love someone so much, they absolutely can make you nuts sometimes but the good thing is that you can drive them batshit crazy in return. So it all works out!
Loretta goes on to try and make amends between Johnny and his younger brother Ronnie, who runs the family bakery in Brooklyn. Well, there is a full moon that is being mischievous and wreaking all sorts of romantic havoc with the family. Loretta unexpectedly is seduced by Ronnie (wonderfully played by Nicolas Cage), who the next morning, declares his love and his desire for her to go to the opera with him. She gets a gorgeous makeover, goes opera-ing with him, finds herself in love with Ronnie, and more hilarity ensues as she returns home the next morning and her mother tells her that Johnny has come back from Italy where he was at the deathbed of his very dramatic mother. When the mother learns of Johnny’s engagement, she of course recovers and proceeds to cook “a meal that would choke a horse” so that her son won’t get married. It’s pure Italian drama and so hilarious! Of course, as these types of films go, Loretta and Ronnie end up engaged, with Ronnie borrowing the ring his brother Johnny originally gave to Loretta when he proposed, so I always have wondered if Ronnie ever sprang for a new ring for Loretta. Sheesh, I hope so!
There are some wonderful subplots in this film, involving Loretta’s father Cosmo and his trashy mistress, her mother Rose – played to perfection by the late, great Olympia Dukakis who died just last month – who unexpectedly attracts the attention of a very attractive professor, Loretta’s grandfather who walks his five dogs under the light of the moon each night to make the dogs howl, Loretta’s aunt and uncle who own a butcher shop and find themselves amorous for each other after 50 years of marriage, and the moon itself, which is a mischievous, lovely lunar presence that turns everything on its head and shakes this family up in ways no one could expect. God I love this movie! My #1 favorite of all time. Watch it with me sometime and you’ll either be amazed at how I literally know it line by line, or you’ll be driven to strangling me with your bare hands to shut me up. Good times!
You’d think that in a film about an Italian family in New York that there’d be tons of food scenes involving luscious Italian food, and there are a few good dining scenes, the best one being when Rose, Loretta’s mother, goes to have a solo dinner at their favorite neighborhood trattoria and ends up being hit upon by an NYU professor wonderfully played by the late John Mahoney. But by far my favorite foodie scene is early in the film when Johnny calls Loretta from his dying mother’s bedside in Siciliy and Rose is cooking them both breakfast. She makes eggs in nests, or birds nests, as they are more commonly called. It’s basically a slice of thick, good-quality bread with a hole cut in the center, toasted in butter in a large skillet and with an egg cracked into the hole and cooked together. Simple but oh so good! So I recreated that scene with my own touches, including a vegetarian versions, so read on.
2 large eggs
1 thick slice of good-quality bread
1 thick slice of a red bell pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut a hole in your slice of bread but keep the part you cut out. Since this is a love story, I used my heart-shaped cookie cutter because I am cheesy like that. Don’t judge me.
Melt the butter in a large skillet and add a small drop of olive oil, to keep the butter from burning. When it’s hot and foamy, put in the bread slice, the slice of bell pepper and the bread chunk you cut out previously. (That is your cook’s treat.)
Cook the bread and the pepper on medium-high for about 2 minutes, then flip them over and cook another minute before cracking an egg into the center of the bread and the center of the bell pepper.
Cook until the eggs are set, about 4-5 minutes,then flip over each next and cook another few seconds before sliding onto a plate. (And this is the point where you eat the toasted bread cutout with your fingers over the sink, savoring every crispy bite.)
Mine got a teensy bit burned, but since I like my toast a bit darker than most people, I was in heaven. This is such a simple and tasty breakfast method. Please try it. Toasting bread stovetop in butter is one of the best methods of cooking bread ever in life. And you can add any kind of topping to these eggs that you want, although a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper is all that this moonstruck girl ever needs. Enjoy!