30 Jul

The Bourne-athalon

“If you were in your office right now, we’d be having this conversation face-to-face.”

– Jason Bourne

The Setup

With Jason Bourne coming out this week, we decided to revisit the original Bourne trilogy (obviously the Jeremy Renner spin-off was not included because you can’t have Bourne without Matt Damon).  We’d all seen the movies before, though the amount we remembered was pretty varied. With memory as a theme in the movies themselves, we decided to tie that into the food portion of this post as well. We each chose a dish that we’d made before that was somewhat of a speciality, but then attempted to make it without the recipe going purely off of what we could recall. The end results? Keep reading.

The Food

André: Stuffed Mushrooms

This is the dish I make every year for my parent’s Christmas Eve party. I don’t need a recipe because it’s pretty simple to make. You take the stems out of the mushrooms, chop them up, sautee them in half a stick of butter and a heaping spoonful of garlic, then pour about as much parmesan into the mix as there are mushrooms. Stick the gooey mess back into the mushrooms and tada! You’ve got stuffed mushrooms. This time, I tried pouring the excess butter over the top of the mushrooms before baking them and did not regret my decision.

Leanna: Gnocchi in Pesto and Marinara

I’ve never actually made gnocchi on my own. I’ve helped my mom make them countless times – we always eat them at Christmas dinner, and she always makes half with pesto and half with marinara sauce. Most of the time when I help, it’s during the potato peeling stage or helping her place the gnocchi on a baking sheet after she’s already kneaded the dough and rolled it out, so the entire dough-making process was a bit of a mystery to me. I had no idea what proportion of potatoes to flour it should be, but I hoped that I could just sort of feel it out.

After several minutes of gradually adding more flour to some thoroughly mashed potatoes, I felt I’d gotten the consistency as close as I could to what I remembered. I rolled out the gnocchi piece by piece adding my mom’s signature indent in each one – she says it’s so they can catch more sauce.

With the gnocchi ready and waiting in the fridge it was time for the sauce. Marinara was easy. I’ve made this sauce countless times and knew exactly how much tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and celery were required, and the red wine and tomato paste components are something you always play by ear until you have the right consistency. The pesto was not as straightforward. It didn’t help that we were low on basil and the geniuses at Instacart brought us Thai basil instead of regular basil (really?). I totally forgot to include parmesan in it, too. But you know what? It was still pretty good. It’s hard to go wrong with basil, garlic, and olive oil and even though I totally guessed on the pine nuts everything still tasted great.

And, the cooked gnocchi were exactly the same thick, chewy, doughy consistency that my mom makes, I think if she’d been there, she would have been proud.

Ben: Cheesecake

Hello again, old friend. This is not the first time I have made the famous and award-winning cheesecake for Munch, you can read our thoughts on it for our post on The Room, but this time I had to forge ahead with out the trusty guide of a recipe. It is amazing how nervous and scared one can get with out something to guide them, only working of snuffed out flames of memories once burning in your mind, but that is where I found myself. It is even more frustrating when the recipe is just a couple taps away on my phone and I had to tell myself that I couldn’t just look at the ingredients, not even the amounts, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

Of course memory is incredibly flawed and and I found myself early on in the recipe, 5 eggs deep, with a batter the consistency of a watered down lassi, and I knew for sure the batter never looked like watered down lassi. Like Julia Stiles in the Bourne series, I enlisted the help of my sister Erica to find me the unassuming item that would help me wrangle the cheesecake beast down: more cream cheese! I now found myself making double the cheesecake necessarily, guessing widely at how much sugar to add in, all to get it to a consistency I remember it being. An hour later after the cheesecake had puffed up more than it ever had previously and the sour cream topping was added on, I had resigned myself to the fact that this cheesecake probably wouldn’t be a success. Jason Bourne can work off of what little memory he has of his past, clearly I can’t.

The next day we cut into the cheesecake, it fortunately didn’t ooze out, topped it off with some strawberry topping, took photos of it and then chowed down. And you know what? It turned out pretty darn well if you ask me. While it didn’t have the nice solid hint of orange that I am used to the consistency was darn near perfect for what I can achieve on the dish and the rest of the flavor was spot on. Not too sweet, and with the graham cracker crust everyone knows and loves. There was a confidence that came with this success as well and a new found knowledge of how to make cheesecake without a recipe. Look out world, I am coming for you.

The Drinks

Rather than make a standard cocktail from memory, we decided to make the 1327, a drink we crafted specifically to toast Paul Walker’s last ride in Furious 7 as well as what we like to think is the official Munch cocktail. It’s a simple drink: two parts añejo and one part cointreau, with a couple dashes of your favorite herbal bitters and several slices of orange peel for nice, citrusy punch to break through the alcohol. We’re glad we were able to remember the ingredients accurately because this drink is truly delightful, and we’re glad we got it right.

The Rules

We decided to expand past our usual three rules and develop the rules as we watched the movies so we could highlight common themes that carry throughout the series. Feel free to pick and choose from the list as you see fit.

  • Drink whenever Bourne is wearing a headset.
  • Drink whenever the current location appears in type across the screen.
  • Drink whenever there’s a different type of combat (per movie, i.e. for a car chase, then a fist fight, then a shoot out, etc.)
  • Drink whenever there’s a passport on screen.
  • Drink whenever Bourne uses a household item as a weapon or to get out of a sticky situation.
  • Drink whenever Bourne speaks a different language (per movie).
  • Drink whenever someone is wearing a turtleneck.
  • Shots for Moby.

We hope these continue with Jason Bourne (especially shots for Moby!).

The Movies

For those of you who haven’t seen the Bourne trilogy, we will try to explain the series to you in terms you will understand, if you read this blog often. Bourne is Letty. He died but not really, he forgot everything (including his possible lover), and then he remembered it later. Just because he forgot everything didn’t keep him from being a total badass though. As explained piecemeal as he gets used to life back in a city, he remembered things like how to read and how to drive a car (like a badass) but had no distinct memories. This made for an unusual but compelling character development, where you see the character develop in the present, while also learning about his past.

For what should have just been another action movie, the Bourne trilogy was surprisingly artistic. Each movie had it’s own distinct color palette, the writing was smart, the plot was nuanced, the fights were impressively choreographed, and the cinematographer employed a jarring, jittery film style that really made you feel uncomfortable right when you are supposed to be feeling uncomfortable. However, at times we felt so nauseated by the camera shaking we had to look away, which broke the effect they were going for, so it could be argued that particular effect was overused in the series.

While the plot of each movie builds on the previous one, each of the movies seem to hit the same beats, as far as action sequences go. While the circumstances change in each movie, there is always an extended foot chase, car chase, and hand to hand fight in each movie. The final movie stood out with an original and thoroughly impressive action sequence in which Bourne helps a journalist lose a tail. The entire 15 minute sequence is just Bourne talking to this guy over an earpiece and us watching the guy follow Bourne’s instructions while looking fearfully at other people, but each of us were holding our breath throughout the entire scene. It’s a scene only Bourne could have pulled off and a great calling card for an impressive series..

The Reviews

André: Identity 8/10, Supremacy 4/10, Ultimatum 8/10. As a whole, I really enjoyed the Bourne franchise, but I do feel that the quality dipped significantly in the second movie. The first movie had the intrigue of the mystery man Bourne uncovering his roots, while the second movie seemed to focus more on the search for Bourne than Bourne himself, which I wasn’t particularly interested in. The third movie made up for the second movie’s failings, however, as the writers were able to incorporate the characters introduced in the second movie in a more interesting way in the third movie. They also innovated on their action sequences. So maybe the second movie had to be a disappointment so that the crew could get their act together for a great finale!

Leanna: I still don’t think I totally get it, but I liked it. Bourne had so many great drop the mic moments, it hard not to like these movies. Matt Damon does a great job of playing a stone-cold expert killer while still maintaining an air of complete bewilderment and fear, acting off of his fight of flight instincts which keep getting him in tricky situations. The film does a great job of teasing out the mystery and by the third movie you’re just dying to know how it all started. My hope now is that someone Jason Bourne will tap into life before he even had that name and what actions brought him into this line of work to begin with. We’ll see.

Ben: 90%. As the proud owner of all three DVDs I knew I loved these films going into it. The trilogy is a masterclass in building tension to where you can’t handle it, letting it subside and the ramping it back up again, all to a wondrous effect. And while I think that the first in the series is the strongest as a whole I will still gladly sit down and watch the maneuvering and political intrigue that plays out in front of me. There is the unfortunate case of Marie Kreutz and the fridging that occurs. While she is portrayed as distraught at times in the first film, but ultimately confident in making decisions and being in control of what happens to her, that completely disappears in the second film after, spoiler, she is killed and it is used as a reason for why Bourne now needs to go after his next target. As I said, unfortunate. But that is in like with the Bourne series being in many ways it is a dirtier and rougher James Bond film, a James Bond film for the lay people. And I can not describe to you the excitement I feel when Moby picks up at the end, perfection.