Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Dec. 8 2017 9:33 AM

Is Cauliflower Carbonara Really Carbonara? Well, No—But It’s Genius

This post originally appeared in Genius Recipes on Food52.

Though this is a pasta hugged by cream sauce—with all the warm, fuzzy feelings such a thing has to offer—it’s made mostly of vegetables, with no cream or egg. You’d counterintuitively call this cream-saucy pasta lightfresh, even. But would you call it carbonara?

It’s all in the cauliflower. We’ve seen its cooked, whipped up florets perform astonishing feats before, most famously in Paul Bertolli’s vegan cauliflower soup—an impossibly smooth and creamy puree, even though it’s made from little more than cauliflower, an onion, and a lot of water.

The secret is that cauliflower is naturally abundant in pectin, which helps the cooked stuff thicken voluptuously when blended. It’s frankly a wonder we hadn’t been pouring it over our pastas (and everything else) before.

171205_browbeat_cauliflowercarbonara2

Bobbi Lin

Andy Bennett developed this recipe while he was the executive chef at Rouge Tomate Chelsea—a New York City restaurant with a heavy focus on healthfulness and sustainability.

Bennett simmers cauliflower in vegetable stock till it’s very soft, then blends it all up while streaming in olive oil. The sauce fluffs into a weightless emulsion that you can heat up further and jostle around with your pasta, without risking breaking the sauce like you might with a vinaigrette or mayo.

171205_browbeat_cauliflowercarbonara3

Bobbi Lin

171205_browbeat_cauliflowercarbonara4

Bobbi Lin

He initially called the dish Spring Carbonara, tossing in spring onions and fresh peas—but you can take this basic premise and work it into a million different dishes. In the fall, he suggests poking in more roasted cauliflower, or Swiss chard, mushrooms, or celery root. Here, we added frozen peas, because frozen peas require no extra prep and are always in season. If you’re missing the salty smoked meat, you can sprinkle in some smoked salt as Bennett does—though I doubt you will miss the meat at all.

171205_browbeat_cauliflowercarbonara5

Bobbi Lin

So why even call it carbonara? Most obviously, because it’s similar in its ability to coat noodles luxuriously, though it does so without the weight and richness of the egg yolk and guanciale you’ll find in the traditional Roman dish. If you’re looking for something comforting but not nap-inducing, this change can be quite a good thing.

But in perhaps the truest sense, this dish reflects the spirit of carbonara—of using just the right technique to eke a simple raw egg yolk into a silky sauce. Here, you see another clever massaging of a basic ingredient, the humble head of cauliflower, and turning it to sauce is no less transformative.

Serves 2

Pasta Carbonara

·       1 tablespoon (12g) olive oil

·       1 cup (100g) sliced spring onions or green onions

·       2 tablespoons (20g) roughly chopped garlic

·       1 cup (200g) Creamy Cauliflower Sauce (from below)

·       250g cooked al dente pasta (from about 125g dry pasta—for the rigatoni we used, this was about 2 cups dry pasta)

·       2/3 cup (90g) fresh or frozen green peas, cooked in salted water

·       Scant 1/2 cup (10g) chopped flat-leaf parsley

·       6 tablespoons (12g) finely grated Parmesan

·       Smoked sea salt, to taste (optional)

·       Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

·       1 tablespoon (4g) toasted breadcrumbs, or more to taste

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

·       2 cups (200g) cauliflower florets (in roughly 1/2-inch pieces)

·       2 1/4 cups (500g) vegetable stock or broth

·       1/2 cup (100g) olive oil

·       Salt to taste

See the full recipe on Food52

More from Food52

Dec. 8 2017 8:33 AM

Why Did Netflix Decide to Move Forward With a Final Season of House of Cards?

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

When Netflix’s House of Cards resumes production next month on its final, Kevin Spacey–free season, the cast and crew won’t be picking up where they left off. Producers plan on scrapping most, if not all, of the footage shot during the roughly two weeks of season-six production that had taken place in October, two people familiar with the situation have told Vulture. The two episodes filmed will now be tossed, as will most of the five or six scripts that had been written with Spacey’s Frank Underwood character still part of the show. It’s a dramatic—and costly—decision, but it was probably also the only logical way forward if Netflix and Cards studio Media Rights Capital wanted to continue post-Spacey. And to be sure, there was a brief period last month when the prospect of Cards collapsing completely was very much on the table.

While Netflix and MRC execs declined to comment on the record about how they got to this week’s decision to continue with a shortened, eight-episode final season, an industry source not connected with either company confirms that simply walking away from Cards was given at least some consideration by Netflix executives in early November, just as the flood of sexual-assault and harassment allegations against Spacey began pouring out. It’s not all that surprising Netflix mulled this course of action: It would have been the simplest path forward. Remember, unlike so many of its more recent hits, Netflix does not own or produce Cards. The streamer essentially leases episodes from MRC, an independent production studio. By canceling Cards, Netflix could have made a clean break from Spacey and the now-tarnished series. Netflix “wanted the stink off them,” as our source explained.

Dec. 8 2017 7:33 AM

Why Are There So Many Flies in Call Me By Your Name?

Call Me By Your Name, which earlier this month won the Los Angeles Film Critics Circle awards for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor, is a lovely if straightforward bildungsromance. Set in northern Italy over the course of a single summer, the movie follows the quiet anguish of Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old kid who realizes he’s fallen in love with his family’s houseguest, the older and much taller Oliver (Armie Hammer). It charts Elio’s emotional development during that fateful season and, ostensibly, the challenges of same-sex attraction and coming to terms with one’s own identity. But as Billy Gray and Miz Cracker both pointed out in earlier Slate articles, this tame adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 novel hardly engages with queer identity or its associated politics at all. So what is creating Call Me By Your Name’s growing buzz?

Flies. That sound you hear is the housefly, the winged poop-walker, the Musca domestica.

Flies permeate almost every scene of Call Me By Your Name. They dance across the pages on which Elio diligently transcribes his music. They buzz around the breakfast table. And, during the much-lauded final scene of the film, which is one long, tight shot on Elio’s emotional face as he peers into the flames in the dining room fireplace, I found myself distracted, then annoyed, and finally amused by a single fly flitting from Elio’s forehead to his shirt to his hair.

Flies certainly aren’t a motif in Aciman’s novel. The closest mention to a housefly is a quip about Cupid, the tiny airborne god of love: “Find Cupid everywhere in Rome because we'd clipped one of his wings and he was forced to fly in circles” is one of several poetic items on Elio’s to do list. Given flies play no role in the book, it seems clear the housefly had some sort of symbolic meaning or strategic purpose for the film’s director, Luca Guadagnino. But… why?

Perhaps flies are just a result of living with so many fruit trees. The film is constantly emphasizing, with the aid of locally-grown produce, the etymology of the word “apricot” and the sexual potential of peaches. It’s reasonable to assume that the family’s little garden of earthly delights came with some pesky side effects, like flies and maybe bees or other insects, too. And, as Refinery29 also pointed out, the humans don’t seem to help: In one scene, Elio eats a peach, sucks the pit, and then spits it across the room onto the floor. On a hot summer’s day, this is basically asking for buzzing houseguests.

But then again, maybe that’s too literal. How often does trash seem to just disappear, without consequence, in film and on TV? According to the Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in World Art, flies, the “bringers of disease,” symbolize “evil, pestilence, and sin” in Christian painting of the second millennium. This interpretation aligns well with my own personal experiences of flies being absolutely disgusting. Guadagnino, who is Italian and therefore born a scholar of art and history, could certainly have been influenced by art that employed houseflies as dark symbols of destruction. But since no one actually dies in Call Me By Your Name, I’d be inclined to think that Guadagnino is using the notion of “rot” differently here. Flies—and more specifically, maggots—are obviously known for eating flesh, whether it’s that of a peach or a human being. In this way, flies might not be about death so much as carnal desire; the fixation on the flesh, the festering of repressed desires.

One of the most interesting aspects of a fly’s life, at least narratively speaking, is just how short it is. The average housefly lives just 28 days. Their cousins, the mayflies, get just a few minutes. This impermanence has inspired artwork from the Dutch vanitas tradition of the early 17th century to the contemporary podcast The Heart, which produced a mayfly-inspired three-part episode called One Days Love. “The mayfly sneaks in through an open window and lives her mayfly life to the fullest—perhaps even finding her true mayfly love,” the short post accompanying the first episode reads. “Before she knows it, death has overtaken her. She lies limply in the windowsill.” I choose to believe that Guadagnino was using these annoying little insects to remind us that no matter how badly the audience or Elio wanted it, his romance with Oliver would always be ephemeral. Because the point of summer is that it ends. And sometimes, the list of summer’s casualties includes you.

Through a press representative, Guadagnino declined to explain why his beautiful movie has flies crawling all over it. And maybe that’s for the best. While the ham-handed symbolism in The Great Gatsby (remember the green light over Daisy’s house? or the breaking of the clock?) works just fine for high school English courses, the best symbols are the ones you can never totally nail down. Like the buzzing of fly, they needle you long after the story is finished.

Dec. 7 2017 3:57 PM

Laugh at This Hilarious Video of Trump Mispronouncing Words, and Then Despair, Because He’s the President

Remember during the presidential campaign, when Trump claimed to have “the best words”? Hoo boy, that was funny, because the president actually mispronounces words all the time. (By the way, Trump made that claim during a speech on Dec. 30, 2015, one in which he also attacked the media, made blatantly inaccurate statements about Obamacare, and said, “They’re chopping off Christians’ heads in Syria and other places and they want me to have a nice tone.” OK, just wanted to point that out, now let's get to the hilarious video!)

Dec. 7 2017 1:58 PM

In L.A. Times Op-Ed, Dylan Farrow Wonders Why the Weinstein Fallout Continues to Evade Woody Allen

As the fallout from October’s Weinstein allegations continues to trickle down throughout Hollywood and beyond, and the women and men who have come forward receive deserved praise for being ready and willing to share their experiences with the world, it can sometimes be all too easy to forget the people before them who have done the same. In a 2014 New York Times open letter, for instance, Dylan Farrow wrote publicly for the first time of her allegations against her adopted father Woody Allen, who she says sexually assaulted her when she was only 7 years old. (Allen has always denied the accusations against him. While a judge denied Allen custody of Dylan in order to “protect” her, the case was dropped because a prosecutor—who also stated he had “probable cause” to charge Allen—deemed Dylan too young to handle a long, drawn out trial.)

She described the alleged molestation in detail, and near the end of her piece, turned her attention to the actors who had recently worked with Allen despite the accusations being well-known throughout Hollywood: “What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?”

Dec. 7 2017 12:37 PM

J.K. Rowling Is “Genuinely Happy” With Johnny Depp Casting Despite Domestic Abuse Allegations

J.K. Rowling is speaking out about Johnny Depp’s casting in the Fantastic Beasts movies, and fans might not like what she has to say.

Depp has been cast as villain Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spinoff franchise, with a cameo in last year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and a much bigger part planned for the sequel, which is due out in November 2018. The choice is controversial because of domestic violence claims made by his ex-wife Amber Heard, who accused the actor of emotional and physical abuse during their divorce proceedings last year. (Depp has denied the allegations and he and Heard issued a joint statement after their divorce settlement saying that “there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”)

Dec. 7 2017 10:42 AM

The Academy Board Now Formally Requires Members to Behave Like Decent Human Beings

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made good on its promise to establish a code of conduct for members after expelling Harvey Weinstein in October. After a meeting of the board of governors on Tuesday night, the academy’s CEO, Dawn Hudson, sent an email to members laying out the new standards of conduct, which were put together after consultation with “professors of ethics, business, philosophy, and law […] as well as experts in human resources and sexual harassment.”

Though Weinstein has become the face of sexual harassment in Hollywood, he’s hardly the only academy member to come under fire for alleged predatory behavior. The new rules of conduct are a way for the organization to affirm that talent is no longer the only qualification for membership, but they also suggest there’s at least a possibility of action being taken against other current members, like Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, or Brett Ratner.

Dec. 7 2017 8:33 AM

The Cult of Tonya Harding

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

We’re Matt and Viviana, best friends, roommates, and co-curators of the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan Museum (THNK1994 Museum, for short), in Brooklyn, New York. We weren’t born museum owners, like the Guggenheims or the Whitneys or the great MOFAD dynasty—rather, we sort of fell into it. One cold winter’s day in 2015, in our newly leased apartment that boasted a 25-foot-long hallway in lieu of a living room, several holes in the floor, and a scrawl on the wall from the previous tenant that warned “Get over it, it’s time,” we sat down to watch Nanette Burstein’s 30 for 30 ESPN documentary The Price of Gold.

The story of Tonya shook us to our very core. It was the most American story ever told. In short, for those unfamiliar (or who have yet to see her upcoming biopic, I, Tonya): After being born into an impoverished and abusive household managed by chain-smoking, parrot-taming, fur-drenched matriarch LaVona Golden, young Tonya pulled herself up by her own skate-straps to reach the pinnacle of athletic success. She became an Olympic athlete, and the first American woman to land the triple axel in competition, only to lose everything after a few poor decisions made on the world stage: namely, choosing to marry some guy named Jeff Gillooly, who we’re sure seemed hot at the time, and who thought it’d be a good idea to club Tonya’s competitor, Nancy Kerrigan, in the kneecaps. Stripped of her titles, Tonya became America’s punch line; every deli across this great nation thought it was clever to name a sandwich the “Tonya Harding Club.”

Dec. 7 2017 7:51 AM

Search Party Was the Millennial Comedy 2016 Needed. Now, It’s the Moral Reckoning 2017 Demands.

At the end of the first season of Search Party, a comic mystery for the millennial age, Drew (John Reynolds) turns to his wide-eyed girlfriend Dory (Alia Shawkat) in disgust. “I don’t know, honestly, if you’re becoming a terrible person, or if you were always a terrible person and I just couldn’t see it,” he says. When I first heard that line last Thanksgiving, it was just one searing moment of many in TBS’s surprising, unflinching, and insightful hit show. One year—and innumerable sexual harassment and assault allegations later—it feels more like an omen, a brief glimpse of the harrowing off-screen conversations to come.

When Search Party debuted, it felt like an unusually sharp sitcom, with its crosshairs set squarely on millennial culture (insofar as such a thing can really exist). Dory, the show’s protagonist, was, like so many of her peers, adrift. Somewhere between un- and underemployed, she gave up on improving her own life and instead became obsessed with the disappearance of her “friend” Chantal, a girl she interacted with a few times in college. Dory’s boyfriend, Drew, the ultimate “good guy,” was a pushover who had acquired some feminist tendencies through osmosis; he was pulled into the madness by Dory quite easily. Along with their frenetic friends, the charmingly sociopathic Elliott (John Early) and the living embodiment of the heart eyes emoji Portia (Meredith Hagner), the group transformed from an unremarkable brunch posse into an increasingly imperiled search party.

Search Party’s first season was funny, accurate, and, as TBS gambled by releasing all its episodes at once, totally bingeable. For the first seven or eight episodes, though, it was just another raucous half-hour show loaded with one-liners that disguised, only slightly, its molten, nihilistic core. But by the first season’s end—and if you haven’t seen it, turn back now—real stakes were suddenly shoehorned into our characters’ previously trifling adventures. They commit a murder. A real, actual, even brutal murder.

As a result, the second season of Search Party is consumed with the emotional fallout of this absurd crime. Wracked with guilt over the bludgeoning and hasty burial of creepy Keith (Ron “Post-It Note” Livingston), a maudlin private investigator and Dory’s spurned lover, our antiheroes start to lose their hair and fall down in parks. The plot lines and punchlines are, naturally, less about millennials and more about, well, felonies.

After they’ve buried the body, the shaken squad spends much of their time offering jittery moral affirmations and, in turn, begging to be morally affirmed. They may have committed a murder, but insist they are not murderers. In this sense, Search Party isn’t confined to reflecting on the most-hated generation. Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, whether they like it or not, are also blinded by high self-regard. Older Americans, too, are being asked to grapple with the Trump era's shifting moral ground. While the way our characters grapple with these disturbing events might feel uniquely childish, it’s hard not to imagine a man like Harvey Weinstein telling himself the same thing. It’s even worse to wonder if a man like that needs no rationalization at all.

Unfortunately, this darkness only metastasizes. Perpetrators don’t exist in a vacuum; they leave behind them a trail of victims, bystanders, enablers, and other associates, all stuck in some moral in-between. A year later, Drew is no longer the only person wondering aloud what it means to love a monster. Last month, Sarah Silverman asked the same question about her long-time friend and admitted public masturbator Louis C.K. Savannah Guthrie posed it on live television, hours after NBC announced her Today Show co-host Matt Lauer had been fired over allegations of sexual assault. Neither Silverman nor Guthrie could provide answers. No one really can.

Search Party takes this conversation one unnerving step further. It not only pushes one to ponder the bad actions of good people, but whether under the right circumstances we might be bad people, too. While every character is constantly defining for themselves what's acceptable (faking a kidnapping) and what's not (stealing), the lines they draw feel increasingly paper thin. This nagging question of one's own moral character is introduced most poignantly—and in the most millennial of terms—when Elliot confronts Dory about the murder. He asks her whether she killed Keith as an act of self-defense, and she struggles to answer. “He was attacking me,” she says. After a weighty pause, she adds, “Or he was trying to talk to me. It’s all still very muddled.” As Amanda Hess wrote in a New York Times Magazine essay about the word “violence,” on this point, many of Dory’s agemates would likely agree. “In addition to accusing one another of actual violence, we are now, more and more easily, counting the tenor of speech as violence enough in itself,” Hess writes. While some of this rhetorical shift may come with good intentions, she notes,

This is one predictable result of expanding the category of violence to include words and beliefs: It begins to feel reasonable, or even like a form of self-defense, to respond to words and beliefs with physical action.

On the way home from the crime scene, Portia tells the group that “Everything’s gonna be okay. You know why? Because we’re good people. We’re good people.” While she tries to stay firm, her voice falters and her uncertainty is exposed by her need to repeat herself. We’re good people. Deep down, she knows that on Search Party, as in life, no one can be truly certain about what happens next.

Dec. 7 2017 1:40 AM

Seth Meyers Methodically Demolishes the Idea That Republicans are the Party of Law and Order

The Republican party’s willing embrace of Roy Moore, a man who has been credibly accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old (and preying on other teenage girls so openly he was reportedly banned from a local mall) is such an easy slam-dunk for late night hosts, the only thing better would be living in a country where a major political party didn’t support child molesters. Jimmy Kimmel ate Moore’s bullshit “Christian values” shtick alive, Stephen Colbert pointed out how morally bankrupt the Republicans are on the issue, the Daily Show interviewed the rancid Alabamians supporting him (this was back before the rest of Moore’s party endorsed the sexual assault of 14-year-old girls). The details are so disgusting and vile that it’s understandable that, for the most part, no one has pulled back to look at the bigger picture. But the big picture is Seth Meyers’ specialty, and in a blistering segment on Wednesday, he methodically showed how the Republican embrace of Roy Moore puts the lie to their claims of being the party of law and order:

Trump says he wants to stop crime, but he’s backing an accused child molester over a prosecutor who convicted the KKK, which tells you that when he uses the word “crime,” that’s not what he really means. He doesn’t want to stop “crime,” he wants to stop immigrants, refugees, or his political opponents.

It’s a smart angle to take—though it’s certainly not the only Republican lie Roy Moore’s campaign inadvertently exposes—and Meyers goes as far back as 2015 to show then-candidate Trump’s flexible relationship with crime, law enforcement, and the truth. He builds a strong case that Trump and his party are evil men doing evil things, which will, of course, make no difference to the evil people supporting them. But despite the essential pointlessness in calling out Republican hypocrisy, it’s also some of Meyers’ funniest work: he does a loopy reading of a Trump tweet as a beat poem, then pivots to a totally different character with a sort of His Girl Friday cadence. The timing is great, the jokes are funny, and the whole thing exists only because, again, the Republican party is giving political support and campaign dollars—including money raised by Meyers’ home network of NBC—to a man who has been accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old. You gotta laugh, right?

READ MORE STORIES