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The Big Nipple

November 11, 2008

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“If New York is the Big Apple, tonight Hollywood is the Big Nipple.”–Bernard Bertolucci on being presented with an Academy Award for The Last Emperor.

So, no, I’m not pandering for more blog hits (ok,maybe, I am, a little) by having a salacious title, I’m just quoting the film’s director.

The Last Emperor looks and feels like the prototypical Oscar winning movie: it’s quite beautiful to look at, lots of different stuff happens over a long period of time, it examines a life of someone who sounds important. But Pu Yi (the last emperor of China) wasn’t important. He was just the last guy. He was somewhat puppet-like. And kind of dull. And mean to mice. But the 60 year old cricket was cool. The film opens in the location of Manchuria, right near the Russian border. I couldn’t help but think that the Chinese could see Russia from their backyard and what a difference that makes. You betcha, just ask Sarah Palin.

The Last Emperor has a plus for every minus. It was filmed in The Forbidden City (the first Western movie to have that honor) It’s long (almost 3 hours). Peter O’Toole shows up for a while and that’s nice. The film looks like it was edited with an Ipod shuffle: the time sequences go back and forth too much. I like my movies to be a bit more linear. I’m looking at you La Vie En Rose.


Is The Last Emperor somewhat overblown? Yep. Should this one have won the top prize for 1987? Probably not. I would have given it to Moonstruck. Or Hope and Glory. Or Broadcast News. But not Fatal Attraction : talk about being overblown.

For dinner we went with a tried and true Sweet and Sour Chicken Chunk recipe that I’ve made for years. This is from a Reader’s Digest cookbook my mom gave to me when I was first married. I always wondered if they condensed the recipes and if so, what did they leave out? Anyway this is one of our favorite recipes and so easy!

  • 1 pound of boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 10-ounce can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
  • 1/4 cup juice from the canned pineapple
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 In a bowl, combine the chicken with the egg white, salt and cornstarch. Stir to coat the chicken evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

2 In the meantime, whisk together the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and brown sugar.

3 Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates. Pour in the 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and swirl to coat. Add the chicken and spread the chicken out in one layer. Let the chicken fry, untouched for 1 minute, until the bottoms are browned. Flip and fry the other side the same for 1 minute. The chicken should still be pinkish in the middle. Dish out the chicken onto a clean plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.

4 Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of peanut oil. Let the oil heat up and then add the vegetables and ginger. Fry for 1 minute. Add the pineapple chunks and the sweet and sour sauce. Turn the heat to high and when the sauce is simmering, add the chicken pieces back in. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Timing depends on how thick you’ve cut your chicken. The best way to tell if the chicken is done is to take a piece out and cut into it. If it’s pink, add another minute to the cooking.

Serve with Jasmine Rice

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