Friday, June 15, 2007

Thoughts About Food

I am working props for another show, The Nerd. Unlike The Laramie Project, this show is prop intensive, requiring a huge amount of food. Some of the food is actually eaten by the actors so we will prepare the real thing each night. In other cases, it is only the illusion of the real thing that is necessary. That is where the fun comes in.

It is a challenge to figure out ways to create "food" that looks real and will sustain for the run of the show. First, spaghetti with a family heirloom sauce.

20 yards natural colored yarn (Red Heart works best) cut into 12" pieces (spaghetti length.)
8 yards sauce colored yarn cut into 12" pieces.
spray adhesive

Mound a third of the cut pieces of natural colored yarn on a plate that has been sprayed with adhesive. Spray generously. Add another third and again spray adhesive generously. Place the last of the natural yarn and again spray. Carefully place the sauce colored yarn on the mound of "spaghetti" being careful not to have stray ends. (You don't want to have runny sauce.) Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Spray the entire meal with more adhesive. There should be no chance that the spaghetti will find its way to the actor's lap.

Macaroni salad, a lot of it, is central to this show. Here is the secret recipe.

64 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
"Mayonnaise" - 8 oz. school glue (the cheaper the better; it is best if it dries white.)
"Pimento, carrot, and celery finely chopped" - 1 sheet each red, green and orange construction paper
"Lettuce" for garnish - 1 package spring green tissue paper

Cut lettuce leaves from tissue paper. Crumple them so that they resemble real lettuce leaves. Spray large platter with adhesive. Form lettuce garnish around outer edge of platter. Mix 4 pounds of uncooked macaroni with 8 ounces of school glue until all pieces are covered. Mound in center of platter. Using a single hole punch, make pimento by punching around all four side of a 9X12 piece of construction paper with holes three deep. With orange and green construction paper, chop celery and carrot using a comb binding machine. Make four cuts in each sheet. Mix all vegetables. If necessary, spray mound of macaroni with adhesive. Carefully add vegetables making sure that they are distributed evenly. Serve any time in the next decade.

I have to admit I had fun figuring out what to do for these props.

We do need real apples and deviled eggs each night because the actors have to really eat these things. Another piece of food that actually gets eaten is garbanzo beans. The problem with this one is that the actor who must eat them does not like garbanzo beans. So, I must come up with a visually convincing substitute that he will eat. My first thought was some kind of peanut butter ball. That is kind of cruel. Have you ever tried to deliver clear, crisp lines with a mouth full of peanut butter? Plan B was balls of cut and bake sugar cookie dough. They would taste good, but there is the refrigeration issue. I finally settled on KIX cereal. This works great on stage. The only problem here is that the cast and crew keep snacking on the cereal backstage. If they eat the whole box of cereal we will be back to real garbanzo beans!

Every show I work on I learn more about what goes on in the theatre. I also learn what things I really enjoy doing. Someone said to me tonight at rehearsal that maybe my niche is fake food. Erin was quick to agree. I wonder if the subtext there was the fake stuff she makes is better than the real stuff! Surely not.