International Dinner and a Movie Night!
Travel the world from home with 11 dinner and movie pairings for families and grown-ups
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Sheltering-in-place isn't easy, especially when you're missing the many cities and regions around the world that you love. Thankfully, without ever leaving home you can channel your inner traveler and the memories that you've made (or want to make!) from Paris to Kyoto. With these international dinner and movie pairings, Friday night or Sunday afternoon can be your own global getaway. You'll find romantic comedies, heart-felt dramas, and numerous family-friendly options, as well as recipes from countries like Mexico, Norway, and South Africa to please both kids and adults alike. You may be stuck indoors, but traveling is far from off-limits.
AUSTRALIA: Lamb Smash Burgers
Burgers — especially lamb burgers — are quite popular in Australia. While this lamb burger recipe calls for Australian lamb, which is typically leaner than American lamb and mainly grass-fed, any ground lamb will do. What is a smash burger? You simply form the meat into balls and then use a spatula to 'smash' ‘em down the moment you place them in a hot skillet or grill pan. This creates individual patties without the need to shape them by hand. A tangy yogurt-mint sauce, avocado (another Aussie fave), quick-pickled onions and cucumbers, and brioche buns, known for their soft texture and slightly sweet taste, round out the dish. Add a side of Sweet Potato Fries or crisps (potato chips), and you've got yourself the perfect Outback meal.
Pair it with: Tracks, a 2013 Australian drama based on a true story about a woman who sets out on a 1,700-mile trek across the Outback from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean.
SPAIN: Authentic Spanish Seafood Paella
Paella, the Spanish rice dish originating in Valencia, a city perched along the Mediterranean Sea, traditionally included anything that field workers could find to add flavor, such as tomatoes, onions, and even snails. Today paella exists in a multitude of varieties throughout Spain, though this recipe is what's often referred to as paella de marisco — seafood paella. Mussels in the shell, jumbo shrimp, and squid (aka calamari; it’s available from most grocers), all cook together with vegetables, spices, and special Spanish rice such as bomba, which absorbs three times its volume in liquid while keeping its shape and texture. While it's okay to use a large frying pan for cooking, a dedicated paella pan works especially well. This wide and shallow metal pan helps create a tasty, crusty layer of rice known as sororrat — a paella hallmark — on the bottom of the dish. You can sub arborio rice or other short-grain rice for the bomba, but you'll need to experiment with the amount of added liquid to get the ratios right.
Pair it with: Living is Easy with Eyes Closed. A die-hard Beatles fan sets out on a road trip through Spain in this 2013 Spanish dramedy, all on a quest to meet John Lennon. In Spanish with English subtitles.
PERU: Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce
A dish that was first created in Lima in the 1950s, pollo a la brasa (blackened or rotisserie chicken) has since become a Peruvian classic: tender and crispy-skinned chicken, often roasted over charcoal, that’s served with tasty dipping sauces. For this version of the Peruvian chicken recipe, which roasts in the oven, you’ll marinate the chicken overnight for extra flavor, and then take about two hours the next day to cook the chicken and create the creamy, spicy dunk sauce. It’s well worth the effort, especially when accompanied by Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots for the ultimate Peruvian meal.
Pair it with: Pachamama, a 2018 animated family film that tells the allegorical tale of a young Andean boy and his quest to become a shaman. Available in English on Netflix.
NORWAY: Norwegian Fish Cakes
With water surrounding most of Norway, it's no wonder that seafood is among the country's top local delicacies. One of the most versatile ways to enjoy it is in the form of fiskekaker — basically fried fish cakes that can be served up as snacks, atop open-faced sandwiches, or as you would serve burger patties. As a bonus, they're gently flavored and extremely kid-friendly. All you need is a pound of white fish such as Atlantic cod or haddock, a few everyday pantry ingredients such as nutmeg and egg white, and if you like, chives for a bit of oniony flavor. Follow them up with some easy-to-make Norwegian Butter Cookies, a great family baking project.
FRANCE: Quiche Lorraine
The beauty of this French classic is that it's ideal for enjoying any time of day. Quiche Lorraine is associated with France's Lorraine region, a largely rural place that sits on the border of Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany, and its ingredients include Gruyere, a nutty Swiss-made cheese that adds a lovely savoriness; thick-cut bacon; shallots; and cream. Once cooked it can be frozen for up to three months, which also makes it quite convenient for a future movie night.
Pair it with: Amelie, the award-winning, slice-of-life romantic comedy that features an ever-charming protagonist and Paris' magical Montmartre neighborhood. Or for a change of pace, the original Force Majeure, about an avalanche in the French Alps that tests a couple's resilience. Both are in French with English subtitles.
JAPAN: Japanese Ramen
The delicious warmth that comes from a bowl of Japanese ramen can soothe nerves and bring comfort, making it a great choice for sheltering in place. This version is easy to make and affordable. You can use either a package of instant ramen noodles (without the flavoring packet) or dried ramen noodles, available online or at an Asian or speciality market. Cook them up in a vegetable broth that includes miso paste or soy sauce, baby bella mushrooms (essentially smaller versions of portobello), carrots, and snow peas. Then top each bowl with a poached or fried egg, and you're ready to be Spirited Away.
Pair it with: Spirited Away or Ponyo by Hayao Miyazaki, an animator and screenwriter known especially for his fantasy films; both are family favorites that are available for viewing in Japanese with subtitles, or dubbed in English.
GERMANY: Kartoffelpuffer (German Potato Pancakes)
Potatoes are ubiquitous in Germany, cooked up in everything from dumplings to soup. However, it's the potato pancakes known as kartoffelpuffer — soft on the inside, crispy on the outside (you may know it as a latke) — that are the real countrywide crowd-please. These are a favorite at beer festivals, holiday markets, and in kitchens from Wiesbaden to Leipzig. The key to this kartoffelpuffer recipe is to use starchy potatoes such as russet, which will fry up quickly and evenly to a light golden color. Then serve them with a side of applesauce and a light sprinkling of powdered sugar for something sweet, or with sour cream or crème fraîche and pork sausage for a more complete meal.
Pair them with: Goodbye, Lenin! in which a woman living in the former East Berlin awakes from a coma not knowing that the wall has fallen, and the comedic extent her son goes to shield her from this knowledge. In German with English subtitles.
JAMAICA: Jamaican Jerk Chicken
“Jerk” refers to a Jamaican style of cooking in which meats (and sometimes vegetables) are marinated in a blend of spices that traditionally includes lots of allspice (known in Jamaica as pimento) and black pepper, fiery Scotch bonnet chilies, and soy sauce, among other seasonings. This jerk chicken recipe recreates Jamaica's authentic smoky jerk taste with grilling over charcoal or gas, but also tells you how to cook the chicken on a stovetop. Serve it with Jamaican Red Beans and Rice, cooked with coconut milk, for the full experience.
Pair it with: Cool Runnings, the story of Jamaica's Olympic bobsledding team, based loosely on real-life events. It's both uplifting and loads of fun.
SOUTH AFRICA: Sosaties (lamb and apricot kebabs)
Braais (the Afrikaan word for “grilled meat”) are essentially South Africa's version of a traditional barbecue, and sosaties are a braai classic. These lamb kebabs cooked in a distinctive curry marinade hail from the country's Cape Malay community, originally settled by formerly enslaved people and exiles from the Dutch East Indies and now also known for its brightly colored homes, especially in the Cape Town neighborhood of Bo-Kaap. It's easy to recreate the beloved kebabs at home using beef, sausages, or chicken, though lamb is the most typical. The addition of dried apricots adds a sweetness to the dish. You can serve the skewers with a side of Chakalaka, a spicy South African relish, or South African Potato Salad, made with sweetened condensed milk as well as mayonnaise.
Pair it with: The Gods Must be Crazy, a South African slapstick comedy (shot on location in Botswana) about a nomadic bushman who's literally hit on the head by modernity.
If you already love burritos or tacos, you'll feel right at home with gorditas — thick and stuffed corn tortillas that are found throughout Mexico, and vary from region to region. Food blogger and Mexico native Mely Martinez of Mexico in My Kitchen makes her gorditas recipe using masa harina, a type of maize flour, and a flat-surfaced griddle for cooking. And while she fills them with refried beans and leftover pork in salsa verde, you can fill them with everything from Chorizo and Eggs to beans and cheese. You can even top gorditas with dulce de leche, or mix in vanilla and cinnamon, then serve them with coffee for a sweet breakfast treat.
Pair them with: Coco, a computer-animated film about music and family that follows young Miguel's adventures through the colorful Land of the Dead, while embracing his Mexican heritage.
ITALY: Rigatoni alla Norma
A dish that's especially beloved throughout Sicily, pasta alla Norma consists primarily of eggplant, tomatoes, and ricotta salata, a salty, crumbly Italian sheep’s milk cheese that's quite different from typical ricotta. If you can't find ricotta salata, you can try Pecorino Romano instead. Rigatoni pasta is another key ingredient for this recipe, as its short tube shape and ridged exterior do a wonderful job at absorbing the dish's flavorful sauce.
Pair it with: Cinema Paradiso. Set in Sicily beginning just after WWI, this beautiful and haunting film tells the story of a young boy and his friendship over time with a middle-aged projectionist. Don't forget the tissues. In Italian with English subtitles.
Recipes for quarantine cooking
We're with you at Yummly during the coronavirus to make home cooking as easy and flexible as possible. You'll find lots more ideas in our quarantine cooking collection.