Nan Can Cook, premiere installment

Here’s a video I made for a contest that the Criterion Collection is doing in honor of its release of Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. The movie itself is a strange, 3 hour formal exercise in recording pretty much every move that a woman makes. Yes, it’s an actress, but the point of it is that small, mundane details tell a story as much if not more than big, interesting ones. As my friend Peter said, the whole thing becomes weirdly suspenseful; will Jeanne alter her routine? Who can know. Watch and find out (if, that is, this is your cup of tea).

Anyway, it seemed like a no-brainer to just copy the film as closely as possible, but once I saw someone do that, I realized how dull it was. The movie is fascinating because you’re sucked into the world, just as watching someone you know well do any small task reveals links to their character. When simply copied, there’s not much to do. I mean, you might as well paint a wall and watch that dry.

Now I can see how an accumulation of people repeating meatloaf and potato cooking could be interesting as a mosaic, but these are long ass videos that take several minutes to watch and, well, it’s just not my thing. So I flipped it, as does Leon on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the result is either going to annoy people to death because they don’t like my screen persona (I feel I am the Steven Wright of cooking) or amuse them particularly if they do know me because it’s very me, or teach them how to make really good smashed potatoes. It’s all good, I guess.

Note that the reference at the end is to the fact that Jeanne turns tricks that are just as dreary as her cooking in order to make the rent each month. In hindsight, I realize that anyone who watched the original movie will probably have clicked off long before the final joke in annoyance at my tactics, so it will be lost to all but you, dear nanarama devoted.

By the way, to make these potatoes, cook up a couple of pounds of well-scrubbed unpeeled potatoes (I use small ones here, but any potatoes will do), drain them; I mention that I save cooking water in the video, but you’ll see I don’t use it. Throw in sour cream (I use no-fat), butter (I use whipped for less calories), and 2 wedges of Laughing Cow Light Garlic Cheese. How much? A good amount, that’s how much. (Sorry, I hate to measure.) Smash the stuff into the potatoes with abandon. Stir in chopped herbs; here I use parsley and scallion tops, but ideally I would use chives instead as they have a more delicate flavor.

By the way too, I had an absolutely blast doing this, so will be doing more and posting here. Watch this space.

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