Friday, May 31, 2013

L'ennemi intime (Intimate Enemies) review

An excellent and unflinching look into one of the most brutal conflicts of the 20th century - the Algerian War (although the French refused to formally call it a war), Intimate Enemies might be categorized as the Frenchversion of Platoon or Full Metal Jacket. Unlike most war movies it also maintains a surprisingly successful level of suspense more associated with film noir (the amazing music score might have something to do with that). It deals with many of the similar themes to aforementioned movies: the unwinnable war, the horrible brutality and dehumanization of the enemy, questionable 'ends justify the means' mentality of one's own side, resignation and bitterness of the common soldiers. Algeria was not merely a war of Algerian revolutionaries against French oppressions, more than two million so-called "blackfeet" - ethnic Algerians who supported the French - fought in the war as well. Both sides butchered and tortured civilians and prisoners alike - truly there were no "good guys". Intimate Enemies has all the military cliche characters that we might expect but still manages to make them seem like real people, and endow them with real emotions and real dilemmas. The French experience has much to teach us about other conflicts going on today: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia. Intimate Enemies is now one of my favourite war movies, and the best movie about the conflict in Algeria since the excellent black-and-white "Battle of Algiers". It is now on Netflix in the foreign film category and I strongly recommend it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

French onion soup

I made a new recipe, something I always wanted to try - French onion soup! Now this version is an amalgamation of half-remembered tales, food network shows, and last-minute inspiration, but it turned out very well! Here we go:

- 2 large onions, chopped into thick slices
- two sticks of butter
- one or two cloves of garlic
- a splash of red wine or brandy
- beef broth, approximately 600ml
- Worcestershire sauce
- four thick slices of bread (ciabatta or crusty French bread are best)
- olive oil
- about 300 grams of Emmental cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop the onions and the garlic, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onions, sautee them until tender and the rings break up, but don't cook through yet. Add the garlic. Preheat the oven to 300C.
2. Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and the wine or brandy. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes or so, then let simmer for 10 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Meanwhile slice the bread, drizzle olive oil on both sides, place on an oven tray and toast in the oven lightly until bread is just turning golden brown (on both sides). Remove from the oven.
4. Divide the grated cheese into 8 equal parts. Spread 1 part of the cheese into the bottom of an oven-friendly bowl (flat bottom is best). You should have four bowls total (so you'll use up half of your cheese on the bottom of the bowls).
5. Divide the soup mix equally among the four bowls, place the toast on top of the soup, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
6. Switch the oven to broil, place four bowls in the oven until the cheese is bubbling and becoming crusty. Remove carefully (the bowls will be very hot), garnish with fresh parsley to taste and serve immediately with a spoon and a fork.


P.S. Will post pics soon!