“That’s what people in the best place say to the people in the worst place.”– Curtis
Did you think we could all come out of our homes and start dining out, shopping, and seeing people again? If you did, you’re wrong! We are still very much in the midst of a pandemic. Things may not be as deadly outside as they were in Snowpiercer, but they’re certainly not safe. This is why the Munch crew is still cooking, eating, drinking, and watching from the safety of our homes.
Snowpiercer is a visually striking movie with some truly incredible set design. The whole movie takes place inside a moving train that is seemingly thousands of feet long as the main cast of characters trek from the very end of the train to the engine upfront. Each car has a new and intricate design, many of which pay homage to the graphic novel “Le Transperceneige” by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette on which the movie is based. We followed suit and prepared dishes for some of the most memorable cars on the train… And then we froze everything.
One of the earlier cars the characters enter resembles a greenhouse. It’s full of green, leafy plants – a stark contrast the dingy, metallic cars they started from. We also started with a leafy herb salad served with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
Later on their journey, the characters make it to an aquarium car with glass walls all around housing schools of live fish. Here, they encounter a lone chef preparing a bi-annual sushi meal. We remembered the aquarium but not the sushi, so we ended up making a Greek fisherman’s stew. Given our June-uary weather here in Seattle, it was a completely appropriate meal and ended up being very flavorful and satisfying.
For dessert, we skipped ahead to the end of the movie when (spoilers!) the train crashes and spews fire, oil, and ash into the frozen landscape. We paired that scene with a cream cheese semifreddo served with a drizzle of both maple syrup and balsamic vinegar (even better if you have a balsamic reduction on hand). It may sound like a strange combination, but don’t overlook the balsamic vinegar. The acidity really adds a necessary depth and interest to the dish overall.
Finally, continuing with our frozen theme, we made a frozen cocktail. We made a blended strawberry Negroni, and despite choosing to pair it with a wintry film, it was the perfect summer slushy.
We all knew what we were getting into with Snowpiercer since we’d all seen it before and remembered quite well how dark things got, yet as we sat down to watch, we were all still a little surprised by just how hard some of the themes still hit. This speaks to the craft and care spent in writing and filming Snowpiercer because the setting itself is wild: in the not-so-distant future, a child obsessed with trains grows up to build a railroad that circumnavigates the Earth and a train that runs on it that houses all that remains of life on Earth after a chemically-induced winter freezes the whole world over. Wild!
But at the end of the day, this is very much a Bong Joon-Ho movie not just because it stars Song Kang Ho, but because it explores and challenges class divides and social order. While the movie could easily have spent more time explaining how the train works, it is much more focused on the social engineering than the mechanical. If you’re stuck inside (where you should be) questioning and challenging how our society is currently functioning, let us say that Snowpiercer might be a good companion.
The passengers in the best position on the train frequently lament that balance and order are key and must not be disturbed (does this sound familiar?). Everyone has their role, their preordained position, their purpose. The people at the back of the train know that their lot is entirely unjust and that some of the wealth in other cars could be redistributed so more people could prosper. Flashbacks show previous attempts to reach these cars, but each failure is met with harsher and harsher punishments to discourage uprises and break the spirit of the most marginalized (seriously, does this sound familiar?) It’s hard not to cringe (or cry) a little (or a lot) when you watch the propaganda shown on the Snowpiercer to justify and protect the prosperity of the elite at the expense of the most vulnerable. The déjà vu we experienced has never felt so nauseating.
If you take one lesson away from this post and from Snowpiercer, we hope it’s that you accept that sometimes you just have to blow the whole system up and start over because the system is too broken to be fixed (or in many cases, designed to be “broken” in the first place). We must take drastic steps today to defund the police, dismantle the prison industrial complex, fight climate change, and – don’t forget! – slow the spread of the coronavirus (just to name a few things that are top of mind for us right now). And we sincerely hope we do because we don’t want to see a bunch of memes in 2031 making dark commentary on how life isn’t so different from life in Snowpiercer.